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Herbie Gomez .

A JUNE 12 Washington Post report had this head: “Iceland criticized Duterte’s drug war, so he accused its people of ‘eating ice’.”

That was how the President, known for spewing out absurdities at the height of his tantrums, reacted when Iceland succeeded in making the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) pass a resolution to make the UN high commissioner for human rights, Michelle Bachelet, look into the killings of thousands of Filipinos in the name of Duterte’s so-called “war on drugs,” and to submit a comprehensive report about the real human rights situation in the Philippines.

The UNHRC resolution did not condemn anything. It was, in the words of Iceland’s foreign minister Gudlaugur Thor Thordarson, a “very modest” resolution “focusing on impartiality and cooperation with the UN to get clarity around the contested facts.”

Thordarson adds: “I sincerely hope that this will eventually prompt Philippine authorities to work with the UN.”

How did Duterte, the strongman from Davao, respond?


The Philippine dictator mouthed pure laughable nonsense that betrayed what really sounded like ignorance. Said Duterte: “What is the problem of Iceland? It’s just ice… That’s your problem, you have too much ice, and there is no clear day or night there… You can understand no crime. There is no policeman either, and they just go about eating ice.”

Duterte’s foreign affairs secretary, Teodoro Locsin Jr., was on the verge of going berserk because he saw the Iceland-sponsored resolution to be an “insult.” He said, “We renew 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. There will be consequences; far-reaching ones.”

Consequences? Far-reaching ones? Oh, c’mon!

Locsin and presidential spokesman cum court jester Salvador Panelo soon found themselves contradicting each other. Panelo says Malacañang is considering cutting diplomatic ties with Iceland; Locsin now says he, as the country’s top diplomat, “never considered for a second cutting any ties over this small matter.” These Malacañang boys should sit down, weigh the pros and cons, and make up their mind on the Palace’s position.

I must state though that Locsin was right in saying days after his bluff that the UNHRC resolution should be seen as a “small matter” — meaning, not threatening. Come to think of it, only the guilty should see the resolution as a serious matter and worrisome.

So, if it is a “small matter,” as Locsin puts it now, why is the Duterte administration going ballistic over Iceland and the UNHRC resolution?

There is even a threat for the Philippines to leave the UNHRC, and that Duterte wouldn’t cooperate with UN investigators. If the Duterte administration maintains its position that there is nothing wrong with its “war on drugs,” why is it even thinking of not allowing the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to look into the killings?

When the serial killings began in 2016, the Duterte government and its propaganda machinery argued that law-abiding citizens have nothing to worry about because the crackdown would only affect criminals. Now, the same point may be used on the Duterte administration. If the government is not bloodstained, if Duterte’s hands are unstained by the blood of Filipinos, including the innocent and children, if it is innocent, then there should be no cause for worry.

And so, allow investigators from the UN to freely do their job and provide them whatever it is they want to see in the interest of transparency. Duterte may opt to do the opposite but, mind you, he won’t be the first leader of a nation to put up resistance. From 1990 to 1999, an Iraqi strongman defied a UN council, and circumvented and violated 16 of its resolutions. If Duterte wants to be in the league of Saddam bin Hussein at-Takriti and be remembered as such, it’s really up to him.

In view of the unnecessary diplomatic crisis that this government has created, Duterte should get hold of his emotions that have been making him look and say stupid things like a cry-baby, focus, and think it over and over again. Pastilan.


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