The Philippines will not sever diplomatic ties with the UN Human Rights Council (HRC), the country's top diplomat said, despite last week's vote to investigate the President Rodrigo Duterte's controversial war on drugs.
On Twitter, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jnr wrote "we will stay in the HRC out of duty to teach those whose awful history cries out for moral instruction how to avoid the hypocrisy that is the tribute vice pays to the virtue they so sorely lacked". Locsin, who previously served as the Philippines' ambassador to the UN, dismissed last week's HRC vote as "a small and harmless matter".
However, he directed scathing criticism at Iceland, the country which brought the draft resolution for a vote. Duterte's spokesman previously claimed the country could cut diplomatic ties with Iceland but Locsin insisted the Philippines had a "moral duty to continue the conversation" despite Iceland being "a nation of women beaters and eugenicists".
"We're not severing diplomatic relations with any country," he wrote. "If we did, where's the conversation? How do you insult those who insulted us if you cut them off?
"How are we to continue to upbraid a nation of women beaters and eugenicists if we cut off the conversation. No, we must continue it. Many infant lives at stake here; not to mention women beaten up in the long nights of Iceland. It is a moral duty to continue the conversation."
The resolution to investigate extrajudicial killings in Duterte's crackdown on drugs was last week carried with the support of 18 countries, including the UK, Peru, Italy, Australia, Fiji, Bahamas, Austria, and Spain. There were 14 countries against, including China, and 15 abstentions, including Japan.
"It was necessary, in our opinion, because all reports indicate that the human rights situation in the Philippines continues to deteriorate," said Gudlaugur Thor Thordarson, Minister for Foreign Affairs.
The day after the HRC vote, Locsin insisted: "Any probe resulting from the narrow vote for Iceland resolution will not be allowed into the Philippines."
Also on Twitter, Locsin referred to an "Asean consensus against the Iceland resolution" but did not elaborate or specify its content.
The Philippine government claims about 6,000 people have been killed. Activists dispute the official figure and the chairman of the Philippines' Commission on Human Rights last year suggested the toll could be as high as 27,000.
Earlier this month, Amnesty International produced a report into the crackdown and its "systematic" abuses.
"It has had the effect of creating a climate of total impunity in the country, in which police and others are free to kill without consequence," the report said. "There is sufficient evidence to conclude that crimes committed may constitute crimes against humanity."
Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo on Monday claimed the HRC resolution was based on false information and unverified facts and figures. He described the Western powers as "scornful" of the Philippines' sovereign exercise of protecting its people from illicit drugs and claimed Duterte was "seriously considering cutting diplomatic relations with Iceland".
"The adopted Iceland resolution is grotesquely one-sided, outrageously narrow and maliciously partisan," he said. "It reeks of nauseating politics completely devoid of respect for the sovereignty of our country.
"Evidently, the resolution was designed to embarrass the Philippines before the international community and the global audience."
Ramon Beleno, a political scientist from Ateneo De Davao University, suggested Panelo's comments were an exaggeration.
"We need a good standing in the international community and most of them are members of UNHRC. Cutting ties will not make sense," Beleno said.
More than 1,400 Filipinos, mostly nurses, currently live in Iceland, and the two countries have commercial partnerships in maritime, mining, renewable energy, fishing and medical sectors.
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