Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said he was not consulted before the country’s vote favouring a resolution to investigate alleged war crimes committed during the conflict between Israel and the militant group Hamas in Gaza.
As a result, Malacañang Palace on Thursday said the president had ordered the setup of a mechanism that will make sure he is consulted first about crucial decisions on diplomatic matters.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque Jr. said the president expressed his concerns “on the mechanism and procedure that led to our votes in the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC)”.
The Philippines was among the 24 UNHRC members that favoured the resolution.
“Did the President disagree with the vote, yes he did. Can it be taken back? Apparently not,” said Roque.
“But the President has made sure that there will hence be a mechanism and procedure as far as voting on crucial issues where the views of the chief architect of foreign relations should at least be consulted”.
Roque said appropriate guidance had been given to relevant senior government officials—whom he did not identify—to ensure that the country’s interests would be protected and upheld in multilateral forums.
On May 27, the UNHRC voted to launch an investigation into alleged human rights violations in the latest flare-up of violence in the decades-old conflict between Palestinians and Israelis.
Hamas militants launched rockets from Gaza into Jewish urban centres and the Israeli military responded with missile strikes and the use of its Iron Dome air defence system.
A UNHRC resolution calling for the probe, which was adopted by the body in a 24-9 vote with 14 abstentions, would create an international commission of inquiry to look into alleged abuses committed since April 13.
The Philippines voted in support of the probe, along with Argentina, Armenia, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Burkina Faso, China, Cote d’Ivoire, Cuba, Eritrea, Gabon, Indonesia, Libya, Mauritania, Mexico, Namibia, Pakistan, the Russian Federation, Senegal, Somalia, Sudan, Uzbekistan and Venezuela.
Voting against the resolution were Austria, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Czech Republic, Germany, Malawi, Marshall Islands, United Kingdom and Uruguay.
Bahamas, Brazil, Denmark, Fiji, France, India, Italy, Japan, Nepal, Netherlands, Poland, Korea, Togo and Ukraine abstained from voting.
Israel later called out the Philippine vote for being “unacceptable” and summoned Manila’s ambassador to Tel Aviv, Macairog Alberto, for a “clarification discussion” on the matter.
Roque on Thursday said despite its vote, the Philippines “values and will continue to maintain excellent relations with Israel and indeed with all partners in the international community in the pursuit of common goals and objectives grounded on shared values and interests.”
In a statement issued on June 3, Roque said the Philippine delegation’s vote in favour of the UN probe was in line with its previous positions.
“Our delegation has a record that it consistently votes in favour of the right of the Palestinians to have a state, in the same way [that]we supported Israel when Israel was formed into a country,” the Palace spokesperson then said.
Duterte spoke about his disapproval of the Philippine vote on Wednesday, during his remarks at a signing ceremony for several new laws. (Source: INQUIRER.net)