Respect PH sovereignty, Palace tells countries seeking probe on drug war deaths

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 05 2019 06:35 PM

Human rights advocates commemorate International Human Rights Day in Manila assailing killings in the Duterte administration's drug war, Dec. 11, 2017. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - Countries calling for an international investigation into deaths in President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs should respect the Philippines’ sovereignty and independence, Malacañang said Friday.

Asserting that the Duterte administration respects human rights, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo urged member-states of the United Nations “to be more circumspect in evaluating reports concerning the domestic affairs of other countries in order that they may demonstrate respect to the latter’s sovereignty and independence.”

“Any attempt therefore by any foreign country to interfere with how this Government maintains its peace and order, not only is an affront to their intellect but an interference with the country’s sovereignty as well,” Panelo said.

More than 2 dozen countries formally called on Thursday for a United Nations investigation into thousands of killings in Duterte’s anti-narcotics drive, urging the Philippine government to prevent extrajudicial executions.

It marks the first time that the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) was being asked to address the incidents.

The Duterte spokesperson insisted that drug-related deaths under the anti-narcotics drive are not state-initiated or sponsored, and explained that some killings that happen under the fierce drug war are “inevitable results” when a government is “sincere” in ridding its country of illegal drugs.

“These drug-related deaths are consequences of police operations when the subjects violently resist arrest that endanger the lives of the law enforcers who act on self-defense, which is sanctioned by law,” Panelo said.

He also assured countries concerned about the Philippines’ drug war that Manila has a “robust judicial system which soundly operates.”

“The Philippines has working mechanisms and domestic processes, including those adopted by our law enforcement sectors and inter-agency groups, to address this aspect in our bout against prohibited drugs,” he said.

Latest police figures showed that over 6,000 have been killed in police drug raids from July 2016, when Duterte assumed power, until the end of May this year. 

The administration has insisted that those killed by police in anti-narcotics operations had all put up a fight.

But activists and human rights groups say that at least 27,000 have been killed, including cases of summary executions, since Duterte was elected.

Duterte is facing complaints before the International Criminal Court for drug war deaths. 

- with a report from Reuters