Duterte 'seriously considering' cutting ties with Iceland

In this July 15, 2019, photo released by the Malacanang Presidential Photo, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte returns a salute as he arrives at the Jolo airport, Sulu province, southern Philippines. Duterte is "seriously considering" cutting diplomatic ties with Iceland, which spearheaded a resolution that asked the U.N.'s top human rights body to look into the thousands of deaths of suspects under his anti-drug crackdown. (Ace Morandante/Malacanang Presidential Photo via AP)
In this July 15, 2019, photo released by the Malacanang Presidential Photo, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte arrives at the Jolo airport, Sulu province, southern Philippines. Duterte is "seriously considering" cutting diplomatic ties with Iceland, which spearheaded a resolution that asked the U.N.'s top human rights body to look into the thousands of deaths of suspects under his anti-drug crackdown. (Ace Morandante/Malacanang Presidential Photo via AP)
FILE - In this June 17, 2019, file photo made available by the Malacanang Presidential Photo, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte delivers his speech during the 121st Philippine Navy Anniversary at Sangley point, Cavite province, Philippines. Duterte is "seriously considering" cutting diplomatic ties with Iceland, which spearheaded a resolution that asked the U.N.'s top human rights body to look into the thousands of deaths of suspects under his anti-drug crackdown. (Robinson Ninal Jr./Malacanang Presidential Photo via AP, File)
In this July 15, 2019, photo released by the Malacanang Presidential Photo, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, second from left, arrives at the Jolo airport, Sulu province, southern Philippines. Duterte is "seriously considering" cutting diplomatic ties with Iceland, which spearheaded a resolution that asked the U.N.'s top human rights body to look into the thousands of deaths of suspects under his anti-drug crackdown. (Ace Morandante/Malacanang Presidential Photo via AP)

MANILA, Philippines — Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte is "seriously considering" cutting diplomatic ties with Iceland, which spearheaded a resolution that asked the U.N.'s top human rights body to look into the thousands of deaths of suspects under his anti-drug crackdown.

Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo told reporters late Monday that the Iceland-initiated resolution, which was adopted by the U.N. Human Rights Council in a vote last week in Geneva, showed "how the Western powers are scornful of our sovereign exercise of protecting our people from the scourge of prohibited drugs."

Duterte told Panelo that he "is seriously considering cutting diplomatic relations with Iceland," Panelo said, adding that the resolution was "grotesquely one-sided, outrageously narrow, and maliciously partisan."

Human rights groups, however, have lauded the resolution as crucial to helping end the drug killings and bringing perpetrators to justice.

Duterte's threat is the latest show of his disdain for critics of the deadly campaign against illegal drugs that he launched as his centerpiece project after taking office in June 2016. He withdrew the Philippines from the International Criminal Court, a move that took effect in March, after its prosecutor began examining complaints over the killings.

About 6,600 people, most of them accused of petty drug crimes, have been killed in the crackdown, based on police records. But nongovernment groups claim a much higher death toll, including many suspects killed by motorcycle-riding gunmen who human rights groups suspect were deployed and financed by police.

Duterte and the police have denied authorizing extrajudicial killings.

The volatile president, however, has repeatedly threatened drug suspects with death in televised speeches and encouraged law enforcers to shoot suspects who fight back. He has warned that the crackdown will be more dangerous for suspects in the final three years of his six-year term.

The U.N. Human Rights Council voted 18-14 with 15 abstentions Thursday to approve the Iceland-initiated resolution, which called on the Philippine government to take all steps to prevent extrajudicial killings and asked the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights to prepare a comprehensive report on the Philippines.

The resolution called for Philippine government cooperation, "including by facilitating country visits and preventing and refraining from all acts of intimidation or retaliation."

Nicholas Bequelin of Amnesty International said the U.N. human rights body's vote "provides hope for thousands of bereaved families in the Philippines and countless more Filipinos bravely challenging the Duterte administration's murderous 'war on drugs.'"

Panelo has questioned the resolution's validity, saying only 18 nations in the 47-member U.N. body voted for it.

Philippine Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. on Thursday expressed "our solidarity with our true friends who have stood by us in this farce."

"But we will not tolerate any form of disrespect or acts of bad faith," he said. "There will be consequences, far-reaching ones."

Must Read

Hong Kong election highlights rising anti-China mood

Sep 4, 2016

Polls opened in Hong Kong Sunday for the specially administered Chinese city's most crucial...

Asian stocks drift as Fed rate outlook eases on service data

Sep 7, 2016

Asian stocks meandered Wednesday after a weak report on U.S. service companies reinforced...

China imports grow in August for 1st time in 2 years

Sep 8, 2016

China trade showed unexpected strength in August in a positive sign for global economic growth

Taiwan loses diplomatic ally in move welcomed by Beijing

Dec 21, 2016

Taiwan has condemned the African island nation of Sao Tome and Principe's "abrupt" move to break...

China's 1st aircraft carrier heads for Western Pacific

Dec 25, 2016

China's Defense Ministry says the country's first aircraft carrier has set off for the Western...