AFTER initially denying reports, Malacañang confirmed that President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered state departments and offices to reject loans and grants from 18 nations that supported the United Nations' (UN) planned investigation into the anti-narcotics war.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo made the confirmation on Monday, September 23, three days after he initially denied that there was a Palace memorandum terminating financial assistance from 18 member-states of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) that voted in favor of Iceland's resolution calling for an investigation into Duterte's brutal crackdown on illegal drugs.
"Yes, a memo was issued by Executive Secretary Medialdea on the matter," the Palace official said in an interview.
Panelo explained that there was an initial denial, as the President had "forgotten momentarily" that he had directed Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea to issue a memorandum.
He said the President eventually recalled that he gave the order at the height of the approval of Iceland resolution by the 18 UNHRC member-states.
"It was not I who was denying. When I asked him (Duterte), he said, 'No, I did not.' Apparently, as I said, he might have forgotten momentarily. So when I asked him again, he said, 'Yes, I remember calling the Secretary (Medialdea) about it,'" he said.
"That's more [of] the lapse [of] memory... Because when I asked him again, he said, 'Yes, I did." What is important is that memo exists and it is maintained,'" he added.
On September 20, Panelo first denied that Malacañang released a "confidential" memorandum that is aimed at shunning financial assistance from 18 countries favoring the planned probe into Duterte's drug war.
The memorandum, signed by Medialdea on August 27, directed all government agencies and offices to suspend negotiation or agreements "pending the assessment of our relations with these countries."
The signing of the document came after the 47-member UNHRC adopted on July 11 the Iceland-led resolution, seeking probe into Duterte's war on narcotics trade that has so far killed over 6,000 alleged drug suspects.
At least 18 states voted in the affirmative, 14 negative, and 15 abstentions.
The countries that backed the resolution are Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Fiji, Iceland, Italy, Mexico, Peru, Slovakia, Spain, Ukraine, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and Uruguay.
Panelo said Duterte sought the issuance of the memorandum because he felt "insulted" by the planned investigation into his anti-drug campaign.
He also agreed that it was also "unfair" to adopt the resolution.
"When I asked him, 'Why did you issue that memo, Mr. President?' He said, 'This country (Philippines) is insulted by that kind of Iceland resolution. And we cannot allow this country to be insulting us, a country [that] condemns allegedly our slaying of certain victims, and yet it allows abortion of unborn children up to less than six months old,'" Panelo said.
"Certainly, [it's] not only unfair. It's an insult, this Iceland resolution. The assumption is you are not doing it that is why precisely they introduced that resolution. But the fact is we have. We have stopped extrajudicial killings. We have prosecuted people involved in it. And it's not true that you know policemen just killed at will, They cannot do that," he added. (SunStar Philippines)