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PHL risks global isolation if it separates from UN —former envoy

The Philippines runs the risk of global isolation if it withdraws from the United Nations, Manila’s former top diplomat to the world body warned on Sunday following President Rodrigo Duterte’s threat to pull out of the UN due to its criticisms on his government’s war on illegal drugs.

Lauro Baja, who served as Philippine Permanent Representative to the UN under former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, said pulling out of the UN would be difficult and entails serious implications.

“We stand to lose many benefits aside from being isolated in the community of nations,” Baja told GMA News Online. “The implications of a UN withdrawal are too serious to even consider.”

The Philippines is one the original signatories to the UN Charter in October 24, 1945. It has also been an active supporter of the body’s peacekeeping missions, having sent hundreds of police and military contingents over the years in conflict-torn areas.

It is also a member of the UN Human Rights Council, where it will serve until 2018, and a staunch advocate of women’s and children’s rights and other humanitarian development programs espoused by the international body.

At an early morning press conference on Sunday, Duterte threatened to separate from the UN after drawing a slew of criticisms from the world body’s human rights experts.

Two of its special rapporteurs called for an end to the spate of killings, which has claimed the lives of more than 1,000, in his government’s intensified effort to curb the drug menace.

The UN rights experts lamented the lack of legal process in addressing the crime, saying drug charges should be “judged in a court of law, not by gunmen on the streets.”

Philippine National Police chief Director General Ronald "Bato" dela Rosa had said they are investigating the summary killings of 899 drug suspects recorded from July 1 to August 15.

Dela Rosa also reported during the Senate probe that from July 1 to August 18, a total of 665 drug suspects have been killed in legitimate operations.

The PNP had clarified that those killed in legitimate anti-drugs operations fired at policemen first and that law enforcers were just trying to defend themselves.

Unfair criticisms

Apart from the UN, the wave of killings has alarmed Manila’s long-time ally, the United States, various human rights groups and the Catholic Church, but a defiant Duterte maintained his war on drugs will be relentless.

Baja said he himself finds the UN’s criticisms “unfair” and Duterte should have not have even commented on it.

Duterte’s statement that he will consider pulling the Philippines out of the UN, he said, can be considered as “one of his patented gambit reactions to unfair comments.”

“The comments of the rapporteurs are too officious and tendentious for a head of state to even react to. Let his subalterns do the talking and the walking,” Baja said.

Indonesia, Syria

While withdrawal from the UN by a member-state is not provided for under its charter, at least two of its members – Indonesia and Syria – attempted to separate from the body.

In 1965, Indonesia informed the UN of its decision to disengage to protest Malaysia’s membership to the UN Security Council due to a lingering feud with its Southeast Asian neighbor. Indonesia resumed participation in the UN a year later.

As for Syria, it gave up its separate representation to the UN in 1958 when it joined Egypt to form the United Arab Republic. It resumed its UN membership in 1961 upon its secession from the Arab Republic.

While withdrawing from the UN is considered a “sovereign act” of its members, Baja said the Philippines stands to lose many benefits of being part of the UN system, especially when the need arises.

“The UN is a convenient tool box to run to in case of need,” he said. “We are a Charter member and we are looked up to in the UN system.” —ALG, GMA News