By Leila B. Salaverria, March 5, 2020; Philippine Daily Inquirer

Manila, Philippines — Malacañang is now open to getting loans and grants from countries that had backed Iceland’s resolution in the Human Rights Council seeking an investigation into the rights situation in the Philippines.

A Feb. 27 memorandum from Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea lifted the suspension of negotiations and the signing of loans and grant agreements with the 18 countries that cosponsored and voted in favor of the July 11, 2019, Iceland resolution.

On Aug. 27 last year, the country suspended negotiations for loans and grants with Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Fiji, Iceland, Italy, Mexico, Peru, Slovakia, Spain, Ukraine, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and Uruguay.

Medialdea’s memorandum lifting the suspension was effective immediately.

Dramatic impact
Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo earlier justified Malacañang’s suspension of loans and grants with the 18 countries, saying that it would not dramatically impact the Philippine economy.

Panelo also said that the President had been offended by the resolution as it was made to appear that the Philippine government was not doing anything about the complaints of abuses.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. had praised the Palace’s earlier move to suspend loans from the 18 countries, saying it was a “good idea.”

“We don’t need the money; we’ve more than enough without turning to anyone outside except Japan, of course, whose generosity is unconditional [and] quick, and whose motivation is honestly to help the Philippines. The rest are tongue in cheek and negligible,” Locsin said on Twitter last year.

Opposition lawmaker Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman had described the suspension as “false pride” and warned that the Philippines may be ostracized from concessional foreign finance.