PH suspends loan, aid pacts with 18 countries

September 20, 2019
Rodrigo Duterte

THE Philippines has decided to suspend all loan and grant agreements with the 18 countries which voted to approve a United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) resolution calling for an investigation of summary killings linked to Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s drug war and worsening human rights situation in the country.

A confidential memorandum, dated Aug. 27, from the Office of the President ordered a suspension of all negotiations or signing of all loan and grant agreements with the countries which voted in favor of the UNHRC resolution last July 11.

The 47-member UN body—with a vote of 18 affirmative, 14 negative, and 15 abstensions—sought a comprehensive written report on the Philippines’ human right situation.

The 18 countries that voted in the affirmative were Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Fiji, Iceland, Italy, Mexico, Peru, Slovakia, Spain, Ukraine, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and Uruguay.

Signed by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, acting on behalf of Duterte, the memo suspended all new talks and deals for foreign loans and grants from the 18 countries. It was distributed to all Cabinet secretaries and heads of agencies, government owned or controlled corporations and government financial institutions.

The memo, it said, was issued “in light of the administration’s strong rejection of the resolution of the UN Human Rights Council.”

It said the resolution seeking an investigation of Philippine killings was approved by only “a minority of the council members.”

The ban on loans, aid, grants from these countries would stay “pending the assessment of our relations with these countries,” the memo said.

The order was effective immediately and would remain in effect until lifted by the Office of the President.
In 2017, the Philippines rejected a 6.1-million euro trade assistance from the European Union (EU), as the government stood pat in declining foreign grants with conditions from the donor.

Three more projects, worth 39 million euros, were also rejected in 2018 following criticisms from the EU and European parliamentarians against Duterte’s bloodthirsty campaign against drugs.

In an interview last year, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said the EU was the only “development partner of the Philippines” that tied human rights and rule of law as conditions for financing agreements.

According to Dominguez, “none of our other development partners” required such conditions in financing and grant agreements. “It’s only the EU” and not even European countries were demanding the conditions, he had said.