MANILA (UPDATE) — President-elect Ferdinand Marcos Jr. raised the importance of "accountability in terms of human rights" in a meeting with a representative of the United Nations, the latter said on Friday.
UN Resident Coordinator in the Philippines Gustavo Gonzalez said he told Marcos during their meeting that the international body would continuously support "all efforts of the Philippines on the human rights agenda."
"He (Marcos Jr.) is very much interested, for example, in ensuring a consultation for the nomination of the new Commissioner on Human Rights. This is a topic he immediately raised," Gonzalez said in a press conference.
"He also mentioned the importance of ensuring high level of accountability in terms of human rights," he said.
"This was quite encouraging and as I mention, we reiterate the support of the United Nations," he added.
Marcos's predecessor, outgoing President Rodrigo Duterte, unleashed in 2016 a crackdown on narcotics that killed thousands of suspected drug peddlers and users, and drew concern from the UN Human Rights Council.
The UNHRC in 2019 adopted a resolution seeking a comprehensive report on the human rights situation in the Philippines. In 2020, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights released a report that documented widespread human rights violations and persistent impunity in the country.
Duterte had often publicly defended police officers implicated in the killings of drug suspects, and repeatedly promised protection. However, Duterte and his aides have repeatedly denied rights violations in the drug war, saying suspects were killed because they resisted arrest.
"We suggest that the gains that we have as part of the UN joint program, they have to be preserved and we need to continue in enhancing accountability in terms of human rights," said UN's Gonzalez.
RIGHTS, MARCOS HISTORY
The incoming president's family is hounded by rights abuses committed during the dictatorship of its late patriarch Ferdinand Marcos Sr.
Some 11,000 people were identified as victims of rape, mutilation, psychological and emotional abuse, arbitrary detention, forced exile and extrajudicial killings during Marcos Sr.'s 1970s martial law, according to the Human Rights Violations Victims' Memorial Commission.
Some 64,000 other victims who sought reparations from the Marcos family were not included in the list of claimants following the board’s assessment, international human rights group Amnesty International said.
In a previous interview, Marcos Jr. said he told his children that martial law was something that their grandfather "had to do" as the "situation at the time was dire."
"We had a secessionist movement in the south. We had the dissident NPAs, CPP-NPA in the countryside. And these were people who wanted to bring down the government, and the government had to defend itself," Marcos Jr. told CNN Philippines in April.
"That's how I explain it. That was what your lolo had to do. He felt that he had to do that."