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PH abstains from UNGA reso on Gaza aid truce

The Philippine delegation on Friday voted to abstain from the UN General Assembly's (UNGA) resolution on the “protection of civilians and upholding legal and humanitarian obligations” in the ongoing Gaza crisis.

The resolution called for an immediate humanitarian truce between Israel and Palestinian militants Hamas and demanded aid access to the besieged Gaza Strip and protection of civilians.

It was passed with 120 votes in favor, 14 no votes, and 45 abstentions.

"We welcome the opening of a humanitarian corridor with Egypt. It is important that the UN humanitarian system be supported and is enabled to respond to the scale of the needs of the affected populations in a predictable and sustainable manner," said Permanent Representative of the Philippines to the United Nations Antonio Lagdameo during the voting.

"However, as we would condemn all terrorist attacks, the resolution does not mention nor condemn the terrorist attack of 7 October by Hamas leading to the deaths of innocent civilians, including women and children, as well as Filipinos," he added.

"Therefore, despite commendable efforts of the co-sponsors to improve the original text, for these reasons, my delegation abstained on the resolution," explained Lagdameo.

A Canadian-led bid to amend the resolution to include a rejection and condemnation of the "terrorist attacks by Hamas ... and the taking of hostages" failed to get the two thirds majority needed, garnering 88 votes in favor, 55 against and 23 abstentions.

Meanwhile, the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) called out the Philippine government's abstention from the resolution.

"We find the Philippine vote utterly shameful. Neutrality in the time of genocide is unacceptable. The situation in Gaza has reached its worst so far since the bombings began. We cannot as a country remain silent to the unfolding catastrophe," said Bayan in a statement released on Saturday.

"Shame on the Philippine government. No regard for human rights at home, no regard for human rights abroad," added Bayan.  

In a statement on Saturday, the Department of Foreign Affairs clarified that the Philippines stands “in solidarity with the global community in calling for swift action to address the scale of human suffering that is affecting populations on both sides.''

“In regard to this Philippine interest, we supported Canada’s proposal to achieve more balance in the draft, with a factual reference to and condemnation of the 7 October terrorist attacks by Hamas that killed many innocent civilians, including Filipinos working and living in Israel. Canada’s proposal was supported by 88 states, but we regret that it fell short of 8 more votes that would have seen this critical element, which is important to the Philippines as to other countries, reflected in an important UN resolution,” the statement read.

The DFA further said that the country will continue to support the efforts towards stopping attacks and deaths in both Gaza and Israel for “a safe and independent Palestine and a secure Israel living in peace.”

Humanitarian truce

The General Assembly also "firmly rejects any attempts at the forced transfer of the Palestinian civilian population."

Israel has vowed to wipe out Hamas, which rules Gaza, after the militants killed 1,400 people and took hundreds of hostages in the attack three weeks ago that surprised and shocked Israelis. Israel has struck Gaza from the air, imposed a siege and is preparing a ground invasion. Palestinian authorities say more than 7,000 have been killed.

The General Assembly called for "the immediate and unconditional release of all civilians who are being illegally held captive." It did not name Hamas anywhere in the text.

The initial draft of the resolution put forward by Arab states called for an immediate ceasefire. The resolution adopted "calls for an immediate, durable and sustained humanitarian truce leading to a cessation of hostilities."

Israel has rejected calls for a ceasefire because it says Hamas would benefit.

"A ceasefire means giving Hamas time to rearm itself, so they can massacre us again," Israel's U.N. Ambassador Gilad Erdan told the assembly on Thursday. — with Jiselle Anne Casucian/VAL/VBL, GMA Integrated News