Heed UN call to end killings, rights group urges govt

Christian V. Esguerra, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 18 2017 04:21 PM

Members of the Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates raise their clenched fists during a press briefing. Christian V. Esguerra, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - The Philippines should accept and follow the United Nations' recommendation to put an end to extrajudicial killings here, or risk losing face before the international community, human rights groups warned Thursday.

Manila is a founding member of the UN Human Rights Council, which expressed concern over killings linked to President Rodrigo Duterte's war on drugs.

The Philippines was also involved in the drafting of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The landmark document guarantees that all human beings are "equal before the law," reinforcing efforts to prevent the killing of drug suspects in questionable police operations or by suspected vigilantes.

"Tayo nakaupo sa human rights council tapos violator ka ng human rights? Di ba nakakahiya yun?" Rose Trajano, secretary general of the Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates, told a forum.

(We are part of the human rights council, yet we are also human rights violators. Isn't that shameful?)

Last week, majority of the council called on the Philippines to take concrete and immediate steps to stop extrajudicial killings.

Iceland, in particular, asked the Philippine government to "publicly denounce" the killings "and other abuses in the anti-drug campaign."

Trajano said her group would press the Duterte administration to "accept all recommendations," including calls against reinstating the death penalty and lowering the age of criminal responsibility.

"Mahalagang may bunga dito sa recommendations," said Ellecer Carlos, spokesman of the human rights group iDEFEND.

(It is important that the recommendations are followed.)

The Philippines can accept, reject or study the Geneva-based UN council's recommendations during the universal periodic review of the human rights situation in the country.

Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano earlier told the council there was no new wave of killings under Duterte. 

He described reports on the drug-related killings as "fake news based on alternative facts."

But Cayetano, then a senator speaking for the Philippine delegation, presented "twisted facts, slanted data, half-truths, including brazen lies," said Nilda Sevilla, who heads a group representing victims of enforced disappearance.

Trajano described Cayetano as the administration's "official apologist" for its "kill policies."