Philippine’s Iceland-induced insanity making world laugh

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Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has said Icelanders ‘just go about eating ice’ in response to the Nordic island nation sponsoring a resolution at the UNHRC seeking a report on the human rights situation in the Philippines. Lillian SUWANRUMPHA/AFP

Sundry officials and allies of the Duterte administration are hopping mad at the Nordic island nation for having dared to sponsor a resolution at the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) that sought a “comprehensive written report on the human rights situation in the Philippines.”

The resolution also urged the Philippine government to “prevent extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances, carry out impartial investigations and to hold perpetrators accountable in accordance with international norms and standards on due process and the rule of law.”

Iceland had pushed for this action twice before, in 2017 and 2018, but this time it got 17 other countries of the 47-member UNHRC to adopt the resolution, while 14 voted no – including “beshie” China, and 15 abstained.

The Iceland-led vote sent the Duterte administration and its acolytes into a tizzy of farcical proportions.

Leading the pack was Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr, who, nostrils aflame in a fashion never seen when it comes to defending the country’s interests against China, threatened “far-reaching consequences” for the countries that supported the resolution, called the UNHRC a “kangaroo court” and accused Iceland et al of – get this – being on the payroll of drug cartels.

That’s right – Iceland, ranked the most peaceful country in the world since 2018 by the Global Peace Index, is, to the supposedly erudite former journalist and congressman turned Duterte pitbull on the world stage, aiding and abetting drug syndicates by demanding greater respect for human rights and due process for Filipinos.

That risible line of thinking naturally found an ally in Senate President Vicente Sotto III, who called the resolution’s supporters as “dangerous drugs-tolerant” countries.

Then the punchline: “Before the UN, US and Western countries investigate [the] so-called extrajudicial killings here, they should tell us how many hundreds of thousands of babies they abort who are about to be born.”

The “prolife” Sotto, by the way, also bats for the reimposition of the death penalty, and for making criminals out of children as young as 10 years old.

Proving they’re birds of the same threadbare feather, newly minted Senator Imee Marcos also took up Sotto’s abortion argument in calling for the cutting of diplomatic ties with Iceland: “They point a finger at the Philippines for alleged human rights violations, yet they justify the killing of defenceless, unborn children.”

How touching. For good measure, the Marcos daughter added: “Due process may seem slow in investigating alleged human rights violations, but the rule of law prevails and has not been set aside” – a statement utterly oblivious, of course, of the galactic irony that the speaker behind it wouldn’t know “due process” and “rule of law” if they bit her on the chin.

Philippine National Police chief General Oscar Albayalde, meanwhile, had a different culprit in mind: the Communist Party of the Philippines, because, you know, the CPP-New People’s Army “is so against the Duterte administration” that it “will do everything” to discredit it.

But all these earnest foot soldiers of the Duterte realm have nothing on the extravagant declaration of loyalty by former police chief and Senator Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa, once the chief implementer of President Duterte’s war on drugs.

“You can come down and cut my head if this is state-sponsored,” he dared UNHRC.

In Dela Rosa’s mind, Iceland et al’s refusal to trade their accusations for his head would prove his argument, when perhaps it would only be that those countries are loath to end up with the problem of what to do with such a useless object afterwards.

There was also one Manuelito Luna, a commissioner of the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission, who, in classic squid-tactic fashion, sought to divert the heat away from the Duterte administration by throwing its base the usual red meat – a threat to impeach Vice President Leni Robredo for having expressed agreement with the sentiments of the UNHRC resolution.

Still, as bonkers reactions go, top honours belong to the top dog, who was in typically fine form.

Iceland’s problem, said President Duterte, was that it had “too much ice, and there is no clear day or night there,” and so “they just go about eating ice”.

The Washington Post couldn’t help itself: “Iceland criticised Duterte’s drug war, so he accused its people of ‘eating ice’,” quipped its headline.

You could practically hear the chortling.

Great – but if it’s any consolation, the incomparable antics of Philippine officialdom are making the world laugh. Philippine Daily Inquirer/ANN