Another hot potato


NOTHING dumbfounds me more than an analysis made by former Philippine Permanent Representative to the United Nations Lauro Baja, who said the international body ‘may impose economic sanctions against the Philippines.’

That is one possible move of the UN Security Council should President Duterte arrest International Criminal Court officials looking into his anti-narcotics drive.

That may sound a bit scary, but if you also think of what the UN has achieved, at least you can rest assured that the possibility is very remote.

For starters, isn’t it that it was President Duterte himself who refused to accept assistance from the European Union and the United States? There are so many other countries very much willing to help without necessarily meddling in Philippine affairs.

And why is the ICC so concerned with the Philippines, when there are so many wars being fought in the planet which should warrant enough attention from the UN?

The Philippines is one of the fastest-growing economies in Asia, with the Filipinos – barring unforeseen circumstances – standing to benefit much from it. If you impose economic sanctions on the Philippines, it is the Filipinos and not President Duterte who will suffer. Can the UN stomach seeing Filipinos suffer from these economic sanctions? No one will ever think so, unless the UN admits it has changed its role in the world.

With the increasing problems on world terrorism and wars – big and small – the UN indeed has its hands full already. By putting sanctions on well-performing Philippines just because of its war on drugs, the UN would be unnecessarily adding another hot potato on its hands.

In that sense, one could easily realize that the economic sanctions being uttered by Mr. Baja is a move that is far more lethal than the war on drugs. In the war on drugs, it is the criminals and the drug addicts (who kill, kill and kill) who get killed, while in economic sanctions, the more than 100 million Filipinos will suffer.

And what moral ascendancy does the UN have when it cannot even implement its 2016 decision on the West Philippine Sea? If the UN really has grit and spunk, why can’t it implement its own ruling?

No wonder, the UN’s former political chief who retired recently has expressed concern in a parting message that the UN is losing support from a growing number of countries.

Jeffrey Feltman, an American who served as under-secretary-general for political affairs since 2012, said it was “quite worrying” that leaders were questioning the value of the UN.

Feltman, who oversaw UN efforts to end conflicts worldwide, said Syria “remains the most tragic example of the failures of the international community to address a peace-and-security, humanitarian and human rights catastrophe.”

Need we say more?

p: wjg