Government cautioned on withdrawal from rights body
MANILA, Philippines — Sen. Panfilo Lacson yesterday cautioned the government against Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr.’s intention to have the Philippines withdraw from the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) as Senate President Vicente Sotto III expressed support for the move and cited some benefits from doing so.
“At the rate we are withdrawing from the UN bodies, it could only be a matter of time when we will be left to our own devices,” Lacson said.
“We would not know when, what and how, but being a developing country, we may need to ask for help from the community of nations sooner or later,” he said.
On the other hand, Sotto believes that the country will not suffer from such withdrawal, adding that the United States was left unscathed when it withdrew from the Council in June last year.
“I will not be surprised if Secretary Locsin will follow suit, considering the way they were all of a sudden handling a resolution from Iceland and not even getting a majority of those present and saying it is a UNHRC resolution,” he said, adding that he would be “supportive of any decision that Secretary Locsin will arrive at.”
Sotto said Locsin might as well “complete things” and withdraw from the UN, to which the country has paid $8.2 million in mandatory contributions.
The Philippines, according to the Senate president, could save P445 million annually if it will not have to pay UN contributions.
Sotto recalled the US calling the UNHRC “a hypocritical and self-serving organization that makes a mockery of human rights” when it “dismembered” itself from the Council.
The possible withdrawal of the Philippines from the UNHRC could even benefit the body as it will be forced to review its rules, particularly on the voting on motions and resolutions, according to Sotto.
He described the UNHRC rules as illogical as 18 voted for the Iceland resolution, 14 nations voted against and 15 countries abstained in a quorum of 47.
Every parliament knows an abstention is a “no,” according to Sotto.
“In a quorum of 50, one agreed to approve and 49 abstained, is the resolution carried? Based on the rules they have, it’s carried. So it’s illogical,” he said.
Sen. Francis Tolentino indicated that such a withdrawal may be beneficial as “there is a big difference between prudence and what is good for the country in the long term.”
“Everything depends on the President as the chief architect of our diplomatic relations under the Constitution. Our standing and reputation as a sovereign state in the community of nations must be anchored on national interests and dignity,” Tolentino said.
Locsin’s posturing ‘so off’
Meanwhile, detained opposition Sen. Leila de Lima described as “confounding logic and good sense” Locsin’s posturing the UN investigation on the killings under the Philippine drug war.
“It’s so off,” De Lima said.
In his statement on the UNHRC resolution calling for a UN investigation on the killings in the Philippine drug war, Locsin recalled the crimes against humanity committed in the past by the countries who voted for the resolution, while he reminded them of the supposed “unblemished” human rights record of the Philippines throughout its history.
De Lima said the history of the formulation and recognition of the inalienable rights of human beings is a product of the history of the crimes against humanity committed in the past by colonizers against the colonized.
“This is the historical basis of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Indeed, we must remember and not forget the atrocities of the European powers of the 19th and 20th centuries committed against the rest of the world. In not forgetting, the world will not allow its repeat,” she added. – With Cecille Suerte Felipe, Jose Rodel Clapano