MANILA, Philippines – Wrong information led President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday, October 12, to threaten to expel diplomats of the European Union (EU) within 24 hours.
Malacañang itself admitted that Duterte was reacting to a foreign delegation that does not represent the EU.
In a speech at the relaunching of the Malacañang Press Briefing Room on Thursday, Duterte wrongly claimed that the EU wants to have the Philippines expelled from the United Nations (UN).
"And they threatened us and said that they will have us expelled from the UN. My God, do it, stupid! Do it now!" Duterte said.
The EU never said it wants the Philippines expelled from the UN.
Duterte was apparently referring to a statement by critics, including a Human Rights Watch director, that the Philippines can be kicked out of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) if drug war killings continue.
In any case, critics were referring to a possible expulsion from the UNHRC, not the UN.
Duterte, who wittingly or unwittingly cites propaganda in his speeches, slammed the EU on Thursday based on the wrong premise.
Not representing EU
In a statement, Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella explained that Duterte was reacting to "statements by a 7-member delegation of the International Delegates of the Progressive Alliance which has falsely portrayed itself as an EU mission."
"This delegation's irresponsible statements protesting the alleged killings under the Duterte administration demean our status as a sovereign nation," Abella said.
"The call of the President for EU ambassadors to leave the country in 24 hours must be taken in this light. For so long has our President tolerated these undue interferences in our domestic affairs, and he has decided that these must stop if only to preserve the integrity and dignity of our State as a sovereign nation," he added.
In a statement, the EU on Thursday also distanced itself from the International Delegates of the Progressive Alliance, which is critical of Duterte.
"The recent visit of the delegation of the 'International Delegates of the Progressive Alliance' to the Philippines on 8-9 October was not a 'European Union mission,' as falsely reported by some media outlets," the EU Delegation to the Philippines said on Thursday.
"The European Union was not part of the organization or planning of that visit – neither the Delegation of the European Union in the Philippines nor the European Union institutions in Brussels. The statements made by the Progressive Alliance during its visit to the Philippines were made solely on behalf of the Progressive Alliance and do not represent the position of the European Union," the EU said.
"The Delegation continues to operate and function normally, and is committed to working constructively and productively with the Philippines for the benefit of the population," the EU added. – Rappler.com
Paterno R. Esmaquel II is a senior reporter leading Rappler’s coverage of religion and foreign affairs. He finished MA Journalism in Ateneo and MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at email@example.com.