'Concerned' countries should have reached out to PH on rights issues: Palace

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 12 2019 04:45 PM

Protesters rail against alleged extrajudicial killings under President Rodrigo Duterte's drug war, Aug. 16, 2018. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA - Member states of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) should have reached out to President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration formally if it really sought to understand Manila’s human rights situation, Malacañang said Friday.

This as the Philippines has rejected a resolution approved by the international body that sought a comprehensive report on the country’s human rights situation, including alleged extrajudicial killings in the government's drug war. 

Eighteen countries voted in favor of the Iceland-endorsed resolution, 14 were against, and 15 abstained during voting held in Geneva Thursday. 

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo described the resolution as “designed to embarrass” the Philippines.

“They are introducing a resolution based on false information, and bogus news. If these countries are really concerned with the so-called human rights abuses in this country, then they could have communicated formally with the government and we could have responded to them but they did not,” Panelo said in an interview on ANC.

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Rights groups have claimed that tens of thousands have died in the Philippine government's drug war. Police have, meanwhile said, the figure is just at over 6,000 from the start of the Duterte administration in July 2016 until the end of May.

 
Government has repeatedly denied involvement in summary killings, saying drug suspects slain in police operations had resisted arrest.

Carlos Conde, Philippine researcher for the Human Rights Watch Asia division, meanwhile defended the resolution as an attempt to put to rest issues surrounding the country’s human rights situation.

“This resolution seeks to determine exactly the validity and to verify the allegations that have been put forward,” he said.

“There’s this number of deaths and if the Philippine government is so cavalier in terms of dealing with these numbers then more reasons for the UN to do their job,” he said.

Panelo insisted that countries that voted in favor of the UNHRC resolution “just relied on these false narratives” as he explained that deaths in legitimate police operations are well documented by authorities. 

President Rodrigo Duterte is also amenable to the possible visit and investigation of international rights defenders as long as their purpose is legitimate.

“If he finds the purpose legitimate, he will allow them,” Panelo said.