Duterte suspending loan talks with backers of rights probe

Duterte suspending loan talks with backers of rights probe
FILE - In this Aug. 27, 2019, file photo, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte gestures as he addresses the topic of land reform in Manila, Philippines. Duterte's presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo says the Philippines is suspending negotiations and signing of loans and grants with 18 countries that backed a U.N. human rights resolution calling for an inquiry into human rights conditions. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez, File)

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — A presidential spokesman says the Philippines is suspending negotiations and signing of loans and grants from 18 countries that backed a U.N. human rights resolution calling for an inquiry into human rights conditions.

Spokesman Salvador Panelo said Monday that President Rodrigo Duterte issued a confidential memo ordering the suspension indefinitely. Panelo had denied the suspension last week.

He downplayed the effect, saying the move would not considerably affect the government’s infrastructure program and that existing loan and grant agreements would proceed except at least one British loan.

Eighteen countries led by Iceland approved a resolution in July that asked the U.N. Human Rights Council to look into rights conditions under Duterte.