Amid UN call for rights report, Lacson says no failure of criminal justice in PH

Dharel Placido, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 17 2019 04:53 PM | Updated as of Jul 18 2019 05:26 AM

MANILA - Sen. Panfilo Lacson on Wednesday maintained there is no failure of criminal justice in the Philippines, as he rejected anew 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. 

Lacson said the UNHRC action would be unnecessary since the Philippines can manage its own affairs, including going after erring policemen.

“Mayroon tayong kaukulang aksyon na ginagawa. Ang masama kung state-sponsored ang namamatay tapos wala man lang. Ang Senado at HOR (House of Representatives) nag-investigate, ang korte nag-imbestiga at NBI (National Bureau of Investigation) nag-imbestiga,” Lacson said in a radio interview.

(We are doing something. What’s bad is if there were state-sponsored killings but there was no action. The Senate and the HOR, as well as the courts and NBI have launched investigations.)

“Walang failure ng criminal justice system. Nagfa-function naman. Bakit tayo papayag na may makikialam?”

(There is no failure of the criminal justice system. It is functioning. Why should we allow an outsider to meddle in our affairs?)

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. 

Government has maintained it was not behind summary killings and that drug suspects slain in police operations had resisted arrest. 

Latest police figures placed the death toll at over 6,000 from July 2016 until this May, while human rights groups believe the actual figure was way wore. 

The UN resolution proposed by Iceland 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 Philippine government rejected the resolution, with Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. warning of consequences. 

Lacson said he was amenable to submitting to the UN body reports on how the Philippine government dealt with the killings under the drug war.

“Kung mag-submit tayo ng report, i-cite lahat na corrective measures, remedial measures ng gobyerno, ‘di lang corrective, pati rin preventive measures. Maraming na-dismiss na pulis tungkol sa anti-drug war ng Presidente,” he said.

(If we will submit a report, we will cite the government’s corrective measures, remedial measures and preventive measures. Many cops have been dismissed under the President’s drug war.)

Lacson said the Philippines must maintain its “self-respect” by not allowing foreign bodies to probe the country’s drug war.

“Di ba parang mahalay tingnan 'yan? Eh mayroon tayong ginagawang kaukulang aksyon,” he said.

(Isn’t that obscene? We are doing prompt action.)

Meanwhile, Lacson said he does not agree with proposals for the Philippines to withdraw from the UNHRC and cut ties with Iceland, which sponsored the resolution.

“We cannot exist alone. Time will come we will need the help of the UN bodies or entities,” he said.

Lacson, who served as rehabilitation czar in the wake of Super Typhoon Yolanda in 2013, noted it was the UN Development Program which was among the first to aid the Philippines when the deadly storm hit the country. 

After initially hinting that the Philippines might leave the UNHRC, Locsin said Tuesday the country would remain in the 47-member body. He also stressed Manila would not sever diplomatic ties with Iceland.