By CONG B. CORRALES
Associate Editor .
A CAGAYANON human rights advocate overthrew the assertions and exposed the fallacies of presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo pertaining to the United Nations Human Rights Council’s resolution that sought a comprehensive report on the human rights situation in the Philippines, on live TV on Friday.
Carlos Conde, a former Cagayan de Oro newspaper editor and now a country researcher of the New York-based Human Rights Watch, gave Panelo in-your-face rebuttals during the ANC program “Dateline Philippines.”
Right off the bat, Conde pummeled the response of the Malacanang spokesman Salvador Panelo to the question of how the resolution of the UNHRC affects the Philippines’ standing in the international arena.
“None,” quipped Panelo adding that the UN council’s decision was not unanimous.
“It didn’t even get a simple majority of the 47 countries. The voting is not decisive in its favor. Only 18 countries out of the 47 member-countries voted for the resolution. A simple majority would have been 24. This means that (the) majority of the members are not really convinced of the resolution calling for the investigation of the so-called extra-judicial killings in our country,” he beamed.
Conde quickly corrected Panelo by saying that the UN council votes in consensus.
“Again, the sore loser’s argument. But if we use your logic, those abstentions can also be counted as ‘yes’ votes, no? And if those who abstained were not convinced, they should have voted no. Simple as that,” Conde rebutted.
Panelo tried another–he said the UN council’s resolution is grossly partisan.
“It reeks of nauseating politics completely devoid of respect for the sovereignty of our country,” a less smirking Panelo said.
Conde responded by pointing out that the Duterte administration is the last government to be drawing the sovereignty card, given its most recent action on the Recto Bank incident.
“What politics are you talking about? And are you serious about invoking sovereignty — after allowing China to have its way with our territory and our sovereignty? This is hypocrisy at its worse,” Conde said.
As a response, Panelo claimed that Iceland, the state that sponsored the resolution, misled the 17 countries that voted yes.
“The other 17 countries of the resolution certainly have been misled by Iceland, which in turn was led astray by the continuing and relentless false news, published by a few biased media in the country and elsewhere,” a visibly irked Panelo blurted.
Conde replied to Panelo’s claim with a barrage of rhetorical questions: “How did Iceland mislead them? Did Iceland point a gun at them? Or, God forbid, threaten to freeze them? (Do) you think these people are stupid or clueless? And which false news are you referring to? The ones that clearly, based on evidence and witness testimony, implicated the police in many of these killings.”
Panelo insisted that the Duterte administration is not cowed or weakened by the UN resolution.
But Conde said, “That was never the intention of the resolution. The intention was to protect the rights of people his ‘drug war’ is targeting.”
After minutes of tit-for-tat, Panelo said the UN resolution would ultimately embarrass the council.
“Should it proceed impartially, we are certain that its result will only lead to the humiliation of the investigators, as well as of Iceland and the 17 other nations supporting it since there never have been — nor will there ever be — state-sponsored killings in this part of the world,” said Panelo.”