Lacson nixes UN rights council resolution on PH drug war

Dharel Placido, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 12 2019 01:25 PM

MANILA - Sen. Panfilo Lacson on Friday rejected the move of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) to adopt a resolution seeking a comprehensive report on the human rights situation in the Philippines, including alleged extrajudicial killings in government's drug war.

During its 41st regular session in Geneva, Switzerland, the rights body voted to adopt the resolution filed by Iceland. Eighteen countries, mostly from Europe, voted in favor of the resolution, while 14, including China, voted against it. Fifteen others abstained. 

In a tweet, Lacson said the Philippines has a “functioning” criminal justice system that deals with erring law enforcers and that the government regularly provides funding for the Commission on Human Rights (CHR).

“Obviously, we can manage without the intervention of the UN Human Rights Council,” Lacson said.

Lacson, who headed the Senate committee on public order and dangerous drugs in the last session of Congress, had led legislative investigations into the drug war. 

Aside from asking the High Commissioner to prepare a comprehensive report, the resolution also calls on the Philippine government to cooperate with the Office of the High Commissioner and the mechanisms of the Human Rights Council. This includes facilitating country visits and preventing and refraining from all acts of intimidation or retaliation.

The resolution also urges the Philippine government to “take all necessary measures to prevent extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances, to carry out impartial investigations and to hold perpetrators accountable in accordance with international norms and standards, including on due process and the rule of law.”

It also expresses deep concern over allegations of threats, intimidation and personal attacks directed against special procedure mandate holders, including the Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples Vicki Tauli-Corpuz and the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary execution Agnes Callamard.

The Philippines rejected the resolution, with Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. warning of "consequences."


The CHR, meanwhile, said the Duterte administration should show that it “genuinely adheres to universal values and standards” by cooperating closely with the international community “in ensuring full respect and compliance with the globally accepted norms of human rights.”

In a statement, the rights body said the UNHRC resolution also provides the Philippines an opportunity to improve the country’s human rights situation.

It said as a “constructive partner,” it will be ready to assist the government in any “thorough, transparent, and independent investigations of all alleged violations of human rights in the country.”

“Rather than maintaining acrimony and the hurling of threats of possible consequences… the Philippine Government must open spaces for dialogue with other nations that have expressed their concerns about the human rights situation in the country to show resolve that we can most certainly improve,” it said.

“It must show both the international community and our own people that it is willing and able to hold perpetrators to account, to protect all human rights defenders, to stop the killings, and to end impunity.”


Malacañang said the resolution contained "false information and unverified facts and figures,” as it stressed the move of the UNHRC would not weaken the Duterte presidency.

Duterte’s spokesman Salvador Panelo said the resolution was "designed to embarrass" the Philippines on the global stage.

"The resolution demonstrates how the Western powers are scornful of our sovereign exercise of protecting our people from the scourge of prohibited drugs that threaten to destroy the fabric of our society," he said. 

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr., in a speech read on his behalf during the the UNHRC's 41st regular session, also questioned the validity of the resolution and warned of consequences.

"This resolution was not universally adopted. Therefore, its validity is highly questionable. It does not represent the will of the Council, much less that of the developing countries who are always the target of such resolutions," he said.

"Western countries pushed for this resolution in the confidence that the world has forgotten what they did and what should have been done to them had there been a Human Rights Council. It was pushed with the arrogance that developing countries must not stand up to them even if we can and as we hereby do. There will be consequences," Locsin added.

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.