Iceland may have been fed with wrong info: Palace

By Azer Parrocha

July 16, 2019, 7:12 pm

<p>Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo</p>

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo

MANILA -- Iceland may have been fed with wrong information, which convinced its government to sponsor a resolution before the United Nation Human Rights Council (UNHRC) and seek a probe into the Philippines’ human rights situation, in relation to the government’s campaign against illegal drugs.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said he and President Rodrigo Duterte are both wondering why Iceland is making that anti-drug war posturing.

“He (Duterte) can’t even understand why Iceland is making that posturing. He has been—that Iceland has been doing that I think twice, last year,” Panelo said in a Palace briefing on Tuesday.

“Until now, he is in wonderment why Iceland is doing that. He can only speculate… or the two of us can only speculate that maybe some activists either from this country or elsewhere are feeding Iceland with the wrong information,” he added.

Panelo did not elaborate which activists he was referring to but criticized Iceland for being “naive to accept everything that it hears or receives.”

Earlier, Philippine National Police (PNP)chief Gen. Oscar Albayalde raised the possibility that the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA), may have played a role in the UNHRC’s adoption of the Iceland-led resolution.

Panelo agreed that it may be part of the CPP-NPA’s program but noted that the government will not bother investigating whether there is truth to the group’s involvement in the UNHRC resolution.

“Alam mo kone-konektado iyon. Alam mo ngayon ang mga organization, maraming links eh (You know, they’re all connected. You know, organizations now have many links). So, maybe that’s part of their program,” Panelo said.

“Pinapabayaan na nga namin, ‘di ba? Hayaan mo na sila (We’re just letting them do what they want, right. We will just ignore them), we’ll just do our best,” he added.

No impact on trade, investments

Panelo downplayed the impact brought by Duterte’s consideration to cut diplomatic ties with Iceland, noting that it would not have an impact on their trade relations.

“We’ve been having trade relations with other countries so I don’t think cutting a relationship with one country would affect us,” Panelo said.

He also does not see any effect of the cutting of ties between two countries on the development of the geothermal power project in Biliran, Leyte, where Iceland’s Orka Energy is a part of.

“I don’t think even if you cut ties with a particular country, if it benefits that country to be entering into a commercial agreement with one who cuts its ties, I don’t think they will sever that relationship. It’s only the diplomatic relations,” Panelo said.

Panelo also said he does not see the deportation of the 2,000 Filipinos working in Iceland because of the threat to cut ties.

While Panelo earlier confirmed that Duterte is “seriously considering” cutting ties with Iceland, he said that nothing is final yet.

“As I said the words of the President is, ‘I’m seriously considering cutting ties with Iceland.’ In other words, he’s mulling over it. So, let’s see how it develops,” Panelo said.

Chief architect

Panelo,meanwhile, clarified that there was no contradiction as far as Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr.’s tweet that the Philippines is “not” severing diplomatic ties with any country.

“Ang sinasabi niya (He said), ‘we are not severing…,’ eh wala pa naman eh, mulling over pa nga eh (nothing has happened yet, it’s still being mulled over),” Panelo said.

Panelo said Locsin or any Cabinet member’s words are always subject to change based on pronouncements made by the President.

“Members of the Cabinets words can never be final. They are all subject to change without prior notice by the Chief Architect and the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces. In other words, he is the President,” Panelo said.(PNA)