Palace sees no big impact if Philippines-Iceland ties cut off
Malacanang indicated on Monday that the Philippines would lose nothing if its bilateral relations with Iceland are severed.
In a press briefing, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said while it would be up to President Rodrigo Duterte to decide on whether to cut ties with the Nordic country, he did not see anything wrong if it would happen.
"Because if a country expresses its position which could destroy our sovereignty, there's really a need to sever our relationship with them," he said, adding that especially if the basis was baseless information.
Iceland had initiated a resolution, calling for an investigation on the alleged extrajudicial killings in the Philippines due to the Duterte administration's war on drugs.
The United Nations Human Rights Council ( UNHRC) adopted the resolution after 18 countries, including Iceland, voted for it.
Asked how the Philippines would be affected if it would cut ties with Iceland, Panelo said, "How will it affect us? What's our relationship with Iceland in the first place? Almost there's nothing...we don't even have an embassy there."
Panelo, who is also the chief presidential legal counsel, said he was not even aware if there were many Filipinos in Iceland.
Diplomatic relations between the Philippines and Iceland were established on Feb. 24, 1999.
According to the website of the Philippine Embassy based in Norway, which has jurisdiction over Iceland, there are two agreements between the two countries.
These pertain to the abolition on non-immigrant visa requirements signed in 1974 and the joint communique on the establishment of diplomatic relations between the Philippines and Iceland.
Among the countries, which supported Iceland's resolution and have a huge concentration of Filipinos are Australia, Italy, Spain, and the United Kingdom.
"May be we should take a serious look on our relationship with them," Panelo said referring to the other countries, which backed Iceland.
But he later added, "For all we know, they may be the ones taking a second look given the brouhaha that brought about this vote."
Panelo said if UNHRC was interested in what is really happening on the Philippine war against illegal drugs, it should have sent a communication with the government.
"But they did not do," he said, stressing the UNCHR just listened to all the "lies" peddled by critics of the administration.
He reiterated that based on the official record of the government, there were about 6,000 individuals killed in police operations.
He said there were cops who were killed and hurt during these operations. Celerina Monte/DMS