VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Andanar’s claim that Iceland has no representation in PH is WRONG

(UPDATED) Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar is wrong in saying that Iceland has no diplomatic representation in the Philippines.

STATEMENT

In a media interview prior to the president's fourth State of the Nation Address, Andanar questioned the Iceland-led resolution adopted by the United Nations Human Rights Council to probe the human rights situation in the Philippines.

He said:

Meron bang (diplomatic) mission ang Iceland -- meron ba silang embahada sa Pilipinas? Wala, zero, zilch, nothing, nil, wala as in nothing. Papaano ka magbibigay ng draft resolution sa isang bansa na hindi ka man lang represented?

(Does Iceland have a mission? Do they have an embassy in the Philippines? None, zero, zilch, nothing, nil, really nothing. How could you give a draft resolution to a country where you are not represented?)”

He added:

Wala silang representation. Wala silang mission. Walang embahada (They don’t have representation. No mission. No embassy)...”

Source: Super Radyo DZBB 594khz, LIVE sa DZBB: Presidential Communications Operations Office Sec. Martin Andanar kaugnay ng ika-apat na State of the Nation Address ni Pang. Rodrigo Duterte, July 22, 2019, watch from 21:03 to 21:53

FACT

Iceland does not have an embassy in the Philippines. However, it has representation through a designated honorary consul general.

Honorary Consul General Elizabeth Sy, who functions under the jurisdiction of the Icelandic Embassy in Tokyo, Japan, is based in Makati City.

An honorary consul is an officer selected from among “qualified private persons” and appointed by the Foreign Affairs secretary in areas where there are no embassies or consulates, according to the Republic Act No. 7157 or the Philippine Foreign Service Act of 1991.

A diplomatic mission “broadly refers to the entirety of official representation in a foreign state, including civilian and military personnel under the supervision of the ambassador,” the University of the Philippines Center for International Studies (UP CIS) told VERA Files in an email on July 31.

Under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, the functions of a diplomatic mission are to protect the interests, report conditions and developments in a country, and represent and negotiate on behalf of a sending state. It is also being used to promote and develop friendly, economic, cultural, and scientific relations between the two countries.

“A state’s mission overseas is its diplomatic representation. These are often used interchangeably,” UP CIS said.

The Philippines, meanwhile, is represented in Iceland through the Embassy of the Philippines in Oslo, Norway. Honorary consul Maria Priscilla Zanoria represents the Philippines in Iceland.

Diplomatic relations between the two countries have existed since 1999, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs.

The UNHCR resolution expressed “concern” over allegations of human rights violations in the country, “particularly those involving killings, enforced disappearances, arbitrary arrests, [intimidation] and persecution of or violence against” members of civil society.

It also took note of the government’s ongoing anti-illegal drug campaign that has been hounded by “allegations of the killing of thousands of people allegedly involved in the drug trade and drug use.”

The resolution “urged” the Philippine government to “take all necessary measures to prevent extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances” and to “hold perpetrators accountable.”

It also requested the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights to prepare a “comprehensive written report” on the human rights situation in the country, to be presented to the Council at its 44th session.

Critics of the Philippine government’s drug war welcomed the resolution. The Philippine government, however, expressed dismay over the move of the UNHCR to adopt the resolution.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo announced on July 16 that President Rodrigo Duterte was “seriously considering” cutting diplomatic ties with Iceland. But Foreign Affairs Secretary Teddy Boy Locsin Jr., on the same day, said on Twitter that the Philippines will neither sever diplomatic relations with other countries nor leave the UNHRC given its “pedagogical duty to teach Europeans moral manners.”

The Philippines and Iceland are both members of the council.

#

Sources

Government of Iceland, Diplomatic Missions

Government of Iceland, Embassy’s Jurisdiction

Department of Foreign Affairs, Europe

Official Gazette, Republic Act No. 7157

United Nations, Vienna Convention on Consular Relations 1963

United Nations, Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations (1961)

University of the Philippines Center for International Studies, Online interview, July 31, 2019

Embassy of the Philippines in Oslo, Norway, Philippines-Iceland Relations

Embassy of the Philippines, Reykjavik, Iceland: Philippine Consulate

United Nations Human Rights Council, Promotion and protection of human rights in the Philippines, July 5, 2019

United Nations Human Rights Council, L.20 - Promotion and protection of human rights in the Philippines, July 11, 2019

RTVM on Youtube, 28th Anniversary of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (Speech) 7/12/2019, July 15, 2019

Office of the Presidential Spokesperson official Facebook page, On the adoption of the Iceland resolution, July 12, 2019

Office of the Presidential Spokesperson official Facebook page, Duterte ‘mulls’ severing diplomatic ties with Iceland – Palace, July 16, 2019

Teddy Boy Locsin Jr. official Twitter account, UNHRC, July 16, 2019

Presidential Communications Operations Office, Press Briefing, NEB, Malacañang, July 15, 2019, July 15, 2019

Amnesty International, Philippines: UN resolution builds pressure on architects of deadly “war on drugs”, July 11 2019

Human Rights Watch, Philippines: UN Takes Critical Step Toward Accountability, July 11, 2019

Karapatan, UN HRC Adoption of Reso on PH a Sign of Defiance vs Govt's Fake News, Disinformation and Threats, July 12, 2019

United Nations Human Rights Council, Current Membership of the Human Rights Council for the 13th cycle, 1 January - 31 December 2019


This fact check has been updated to reflect the definitions of diplomatic mission and diplomatic representation provided by the UP CIS.


(Guided by the code of principles of the International Fact-Checking Network at Poynter, VERA Files tracks the false claims, flip-flops, misleading statements of public officials and figures, and debunks them with factual evidence. Find out more about this initiative and our methodology.)

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