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MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines abstained from a United Nations resolution calling for an “immediate, durable, and sustainable humanitarian truce” between Israel and Palestinian militant group Hamas.
The Philippine delegation, led by Ambassador Antonio Manuel Lagdameo, the Philippines’ Permanent Representative to the UN, recognized the violence against civilians caught up in the war. The country also welcomed the opening of a humanitarian corridor with Egypt, and expressed a desire for foreign nationals – including Filipinos still in Gaza – to be allowed to use the Rafah crossing to move in and out of the besieged region.
However, the Philippines choose to abstain from the call for an aid truce, citing Israel’s right to self-defense after the October 7 Hamas “terrorist attack,” which was not mentioned or condemned in the resolution.
“Overall, it expresses the grave concern of the international community over the situation, which the Philippines genuinely shares,” Lagdameo said in his statement during the 10th Emergency Special Session of the UN General Assembly on Friday, October 27.
“As we would condemn all terrorist attacks, the resolution does not mention nor condemn the terrorist attack of October 7 by Hamas leading to the deaths of innocent civilians, including women and children, as well as Filipinos,” the ambassador added.
Even with the Philippines abstaining from the vote, the UN General Assembly voted overwhelmingly for the passing of the resolution drafted by Arab states. It passed to a round of applause with 120 votes in favor, while 45 abstained and 14 – including Israel and the United States – voted no. For the resolution to pass, a two-thirds majority was needed, in which abstentions do not count.
The resolution is not binding but carries political weight, taking the global temperature as Israel steps up ground operations in Gaza in retaliation for the worst Hamas attack on civilians in Israel’s 75-year-old history.
Why did the Philippines abstain?
Although it abstained from voting for the resolution, the Philippines expressed its support for many of its elements, such as the call for respect for international humanitarian law, access for humanitarian assistance for civilians in Gaza, and the “immediate and unconditional release of innocent civilians being held captive.”
The Philippines also expressed support for a two-state solution for a “safe and independent Palestine and a secure Israel living in peace.”
Explaining the decision, the Department of Foreign Affairs said that the Philippines “has issued a number of statements on the developments in Israel and Gaza, in solidarity with the global community in calling for swift action to address the scale of human suffering that is affecting populations on both sides.”
It cited the statement that it issued along with members of the ASEAN and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) during the recently concluded ASEAN-GCC summit. During the same summit, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. called for the de-escalation of the Gaza conflict.
Even before the Philippines delivered its stance on a humanitarian truce on Friday, it expressed similar views during the UN Security Council open debate on October 24, calling for humanitarian assistance while also acknowledging Israel’s right to self-defense.
The DFA also said that it supported a proposal by Canada to include in the resolution a “factual mention” of the October 7 attack, which also resulted in the death of some Filipinos. Although the proposal was supported by 88 states, it fell short of 8 more votes to be included in the UN resolution.