Palace: UN experts' call for drug deaths probe 'outrageous interference' on PH sovereignty

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 08 2019 11:32 AM | Updated as of Jun 08 2019 10:41 PM

MANILA (UPDATE) - The fresh call of several United Nations human rights experts for an investigation into alleged unlawful killings in the Philippines is an "outrageous interference" on the country's sovereignty, Malacañang said Saturday.

In a strongly worded statement, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo defended President Rodrigo Duterte's drug war anew, saying the campaign was based on strict law enforcement protocols.

He said the proposal of 11 independent experts for a probe was based on "a biased and absolutely false recital of facts, adulterated with malicious imputations."

"The latest call by 11 Special Rapporteurs of the United Nations (UN) for an international probe of the Philippines not only is intellectually challenged but an outrageous interference on Philippine sovereignty," Panelo said, adding that such "intrusion" was "unpardonable."

"The reasons foisted by them for the aforesaid investigation have been discredited and repudiated by the very nation they pretend to care about," he said.

Panelo said the experts could only "present general allegations culled from false information," and that they "used the art of continuing miscommunication to clothe them with believability."

"Lest these foreign propagandists, masquerading as human right protectors, forget, allegations are not proof," he said.

"One or two of them have tried this tact using some gullible if not biased loyal and foreign media, sowing the seeds of negative force and perpetuating them," he added, a reference to earlier attempts by UN experts to probe the Philippine campaign against drugs.

On Friday, several UN experts called on the UN Human Rights Council to launch an independent probe into the "staggering number of unlawful deaths and police killings" and alleged slays of human rights defenders.

They made the call ahead of a three-week session of the rights body on June 24.

Among those behind the move is Agnes Callamard, a UN investigator on extrajudicial killings who had earlier attempted to investigate alleged summary killings in Duterte's drug war.

An outspoken critic of the President, Callamard had cancelled her planned investigation after the Philippine government only agreed on conditions she could not accept, including a public debate with Duterte.

In his statement, Panelo asserted that the Philippines "is a working vibrant democracy," and that the electorate had recently affirmed the President's drug war in rejecting candidates against it.

"The Filipino people have spoken anew via the just concluded elections. Those who have spoken against the campaign on illegal drugs and human rights record of this President have been overwhelmingly rejected by the Filipino electorate," he said.

"They have been resoundingly beaten in the polls," he added, an apparent reference to opposition senatorial candidates.

Administration-backed candidates dominated the May senatorial polls, with former national police chief Senator-elect Ronald Dela Rosa having the 5th highest number of votes. Dela Rosa was Duterte's chief implementor of the war on drugs.

Panelo also asserted that the anti-drug campaign is bounded by guidelines, and that any violation "is met with the unyielding strong arm of the law with no transgressors immune from it."

"The Judiciary sees to it that the law is applied equally to all, bar none," he said.

The administration has repeatedly denied involvement in summary killings, saying those killed in police operations had violently resisted arrest, prompting officers to defend themselves.

In February, authorities said those slain in anti-drug operations from July 2016, the start of the Duterte administration, until the end of January numbered 5,176.

Human rights groups, however, believe the figure could be more than 10,000, including summary killings.

The Department of Foreign Affairs, in a statement, also rejected the call which it said was "made in bad faith by parties who want to undermine domestic processes and spread disinformation, on the basis of one-sided reports coming from questionable sources."

"This action indicates the refusal of these parties to engage in true dialogue," it said.

"By ignoring the accountability and other information provided by the Philippines in good faith, these parties show their bias and political agenda and assail the credibility and objectivity of the human rights mechanisms as constructive platforms of dialogue between the United Nations and the member states."

A survey published in March showed that 78 percent of Filipinos were concerned that they or anyone they know will be a victim of extrajudicial killings, higher than a similar survey in June 2017.

An earlier poll released in September last year, meanwhile showed that most Filipinos were satisfied with the drug war.