March 4, 2020 / 9:45 AM / a month ago

Philippines Duterte resumes loan talks with backers of U.N. drugs war investigation

MANILA (Reuters) - Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has allowed talks about loans and grants from countries that backed a U.N. investigation into his bloody war on drugs to resume, his office said on Wednesday.

FILE PHOTO: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte gestures during his fourth State of the Nation Address at the Philippine Congress in Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines July 22, 2019. REUTERS/Eloisa Lopez/

A document dated Feb. 27 addressed to all agencies and state-owned firms signed by Duterte’s Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea said the suspension on loan and grant negotiations was being lifted.

The document did not provide an explanation nor did Medialdea immediately respond to a request for comment.

The U.N. Human Rights Council approved a resolution in July backed by 18 countries to compile a report on Duterte’s drugs crackdown, launched after he was elected in 2016 on a platform of crushing crime.

The government says at least 5,600 people have been killed in what police say were shootouts with dealers resisting arrest while activists say the toll is far higher.

Duterte ordered a halt on loans from the 18 countries on Aug. 27, “pending the assessment of our relations with these countries”.

It was not clear which loans were involved, nor their size, though the government said then that none covered infrastructure projects so the suspension would not have a significant impact on the economy. It also said loans already being implemented would not be affected.

Countries on the 47-member human rights council that voted in favour of the investigation resolution include Australia, Denmark, Iceland, Spain, Ukraine and the United Kingdom.

Duterte has more than once taken a stand against the international community over perceived criticism of his anti-narcotics campaign.

He once threatened to pull the Philippines out of the United Nations and he unilaterally withdrew the country from the International Criminal Court after it said it was conducting a preliminary examination into alleged crimes against humanity.

Reporting by Karen Lema; Editing by David Clarke

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