The Philippines was one of 35 countries that abstained from voting on the US decision to transfer its embassy to Jerusalem.
Yesterday (Thursday, December 21), the United Nations resoundingly approved a motion rejecting President Trump’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
The 193-member General Assembly adopted the resolution by 128 to just nine, with 35 abstentions.
Among the other countries to abstain were Argentina, Australia, Canada, Croatia, Mexico, Poland and Rwanda.
The Philippines was joined by Guatemala, Honduras, Israel, the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau and Togo in opposing the measure.
An additional 21 countries did not turn up for the vote, indicating the US threats prior to the vote did have a chilling effect on some governments.
Relationships between the Philippines and the US have improved in recent months, partly due to a close personal relationship between President Trump and President Duterte. This is in stark contrast with relations between the Malacañang and President Obama, who frequently felt the sharp side of President Duterte’s tongue.
The new closely was on display at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Summit in Manila last month. Trump, in their first face-to-face meeting, told Duterte he was happy about their “great relationship”.
“We’ve had a great relationship. This has been very successful,” said Trump on November 13.
Later, at a gala dinner, President Duterte went so far as to serenade Trump with a love song.
Speaking prior to yesterday’s vote, US Ambassador Nikki Haley warned that the US would “remember this day”.
“America will put our embassy in Jerusalem,” she said in defence of the US move, which broke with international consensus and unleashed protests across the Muslim world.
“No vote in the United Nations will make any difference on that,” Haley said. “But this vote will make a difference on how Americans look at the UN and on how we look at countries who disrespect us in the UN.
“When we make generous contributions to the UN we also have a legitimate expectation that our goodwill is recognised and respected,” she said.
Yesterday’s vote reaffirms that the status of Jerusalem must be resolved through negotiations, and that any decision reached outside of that framework must be rescinded.