MANILA (UPDATE)—The Commission on Human Rights on Thursday joined other similar watchdogs and lawmakers who welcomed the United Nations Human Rights Council approving a resolution mandating a “comprehensive” international review of the country’s war on illegal drugs.
The CHR, a staunch critic of the government’s violent campaign against illegal narcotics, said the administration should look at the development as a chance “to cooperate closely with the international community in ensuring full respect and compliance with the globally accepted norms of human rights.”
“As a member of the Council, the Philippine government — despite vigorously campaigning against its adoption — should show that it genuinely adheres to universal values and standards,” the commission added.
Rights activists said they had initially hoped the UN would demand a formal “inquiry,” but compromised on calling for a “report” to win a majority.
The text, proposed by Iceland, was backed by 18 states in the 47-member council, with 14 nations voting against and 15 abstaining.
In a statement, Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan thanked the concurring countries for “caring about the thousands of our poor countrymen who have been killed in the Philippine government’s deadly war on drugs.”
Pangilinan also urged the administration to “heed the call of the resolution” of the UNHRC and “refrain from all acts of intimidation or retaliation.”
Meanwhile, Kabataan Party-list Rep. Sarah Elago commended the UN for the passage of the newly-approved resolution, titled “Protection and Promotion of the Human Rights in the Philippines.”
“The resolution is a positive development in holding the Duterte administration accountable under its human rights treaty obligations, and in the search for justice for tens of thousands of victims of the bloody war on drugs, and victims of political persecution,” Elago said.
Elago called on the Filipino youth and public to “stay vigilant” and “intensify” the calls for the end of the alleged extrajudicial killings and violations of human rights in the country.
Human rights group Karapatan also lauded the UN decision, saying it is a “significant step towards accountability and we applaud the UNHRC’s decision to not remain complicit amid the rights violations being perpetrated in the Philippines.”
The Philippine National Police, the official enforcer of the drug war in the country, did not comment on the UN decision but said they “will remain guided by instructions of higher authorities.”
The deputy Geneva director for Human Rights Watch, Leila Matar, described the resolution as “a modest but vital” step that “signals the start of accountability for thousands of ‘drug war’-related killings.”
Amnesty International hailed Thursday’s vote as “crucial.”
It “provides hope for thousands of bereaved families in the Philippines, and countless more Filipinos bravely challenging the Duterte administration’s murderous ‘war on drugs’,” Amnesty’s regional director for East and Southeast Asia, Nicholas Bequelin, said in a statement.
In addition to calling for a report by Bachelet, the resolution raises concerns over other alleged abuses under Duterte, including “killings, enforced disappearances, arbitrary arrest and detention”. — With a report from Agence France-Presse