President of the Philippines Rodrigo Duterte has stated he is considering cutting diplomatic ties with Iceland, Al Jazeera reports. The reason is a resolution that Iceland initiated asking the United Nations to investigate the deaths of thousands of people under Duterte’s so-called “war on drugs.” Philippine police have stated that at least 6,600 have been killed in the first three years of Duterte’s presidency, exclusively in shootouts with police. Rights groups assert, however, that the number of deaths has surpassed 20,000 since 2016.
“Seriously considering cutting diplomatic relations”
Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo told reports that the UN resolution, which was adopted by vote last week, showed “how the Western powers are scornful of our sovereign exercise of protecting our people from the scourge of prohibited drugs.” He added that the Philippine President was “seriously considering cutting diplomatic relations with Iceland,” and called the resolution “grotesquely one-sided, outrageously narrow, and maliciously partisan.”
Filipino-Icelanders fear reprisals
Lilja Védís Hólmsdóttir is from the Philippines and has lived in Iceland for 20 years. She is the representative for Filipinos in Iceland in a larger European Filipino Association and celebrates Iceland’s initiation of the UN resolution. She told Fréttablaðið, however, that there are Filipino-Icelanders who support Duterte “almost unfailingly.”
According to Statistics Iceland, around 1,900 Filipinos live in Iceland. Many of those to whom Fréttablaðið spoke requested not to be named, fearing reprisals from their government. “This is very sensitive and you have to be careful,” one interviewee stated. “People have been killed for this. I’m going to the Philippines soon and I don’t want to be stopped at the airport because of what I say.”