Palace lifts suspension on UN loan, grant deals

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    MALACAÑANG has lifted the suspension it ordered against the negotiation for and forging of loan and grant agreements with the 18 countries that backed a United Nations Human Rights Council resolution on alleged human rights violations related to the government’s war on drugs.

    Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea signed a memorandum on February 27 addressed to department secretaries and heads of different government-owned and controlled corporations announcing the lifting of the suspension. A copy of the memorandum was released by Malacañang only yesterday.

    “This refers to this Office’s Memorandum, dated27 August 2019, directing the suspension of negotiations for and signing of all loan and grant agreements with the governments of the countries that co-sponsored and voted on the United Nations Human Rights Council resolution dated 11 July 2019. Please be informed that such directive is hereby lifted, effective immediately,” the memorandum read.

    The memo reminded officials that in the pursuit of grants and loan agreements, all necessary approvals, authorities and clearances as required by relevant laws, rules, and regulations should first be obtained prior to actual negotiations and conclusions of any deals.

    The Philippines issued the suspension in August 2019 18 countries supported an Iceland-led UN resolution seeking the country’s submission of a comprehensive report on alleged human rights violations and killings related to the implementation of the Duterte government’s war against illegal drugs.

    The countries that supported the resolution 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.

    Malacañang questioned the validity of the resolution and said it encroached into the country’s sovereignty. President Duterte then stopped all loan negotiations with the 18 countries.

    The suspension affected a 21 million euro-funding from France for a bus rapid transit (BTR) program of the Department of Transportation, and a $46 million funding from Germany for climate change studies to be done with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the Climate Change Commission.