MANILA– The Philippines expects due process in the investigation that the human rights body of the United States House of Representatives is set to begin on the Duterte administration's war on drugs, Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Cayetano said Wednesday.
“If they’re gonna talk about human rights, what we expect also is due process. So, will they look at the facts only from the critics, or will they also accept the facts from the government?” Cayetano said on the sidelines of the ANC Leadership Forum.
"Will they send someone here who will prejudge us then make a report there? Or will they send someone with open eyes and work out these comments?" he said.
Cayetano said "various legislatures, various forums around the world" may be expected to tackle the war on drugs and human rights issues to "determine their own actions towards us."
In the same breath, he emphasized that due process was part of basic human rights.
The US House of Representatives' Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, a bi-partisan caucus, is set to hold on Thursday a hearing on "the human rights consequences of the ‘war on drugs’ currently underway in the Philippines."
Cayetano said he has spoken to an adviser of a US senator who assured him that the probe will be “balanced.”
“If you look at it as a balanced hearing, that’s almost never reported kasi what’s a balanced hearing? Either there’s no hearing or there’s a hearing on human rights. That’s why I’m saying, going back to forums like this, we have to realize that the news has changed,” he said.
“We have to realize that the news sometimes is simply reporting and does not mean to be biased but they also have to have a point of view in the reporting,” he added.
Cayetano added that there would always be criticism of the war on drugs.
“We’re [in] that period of time na parang sala ka sa init, sala ka sa lamig eh. Whatever you do, there will be people who criticize. So the question is, what are your objectives and how will you get there? And that’s a very difficult question to answer,” he said.
Government has many times defended President Rodrigo Duterte's fierce anti-narcotics campaign as it drew international criticism, saying widely reported figures on killings-- from 7,000 to 9,000-- were inflated.
Latest Philippine National Police (PNP) data show that a total of 3,200 drug personalities were killed in anti-drug operations from July 1, 2016 to June 20, 2017, or 9 killed daily in presumed legitimate anti-drug operations in the first year of the Duterte administration.
The PNP has also determined that out of the 12,833 homicide cases from July 1, 2016 to June 16, 2017, 2,098 deaths were drug-related and 2,535 non-drug related. A total of 8,200 homicide cases were under investigation "with motives to be determined," the PNP said.
A delegation of European Union (EU) parliamentarians is in Manila this week to check on the political and human rights situation in the country under Duterte.
The parliamentarians, led by a Swedish legislator who had criticized Duterte's anti-drug campaign, visited detained Sen. Leila de Lima at the PNP Custodial Center Wednesday afternoon.
De Lima, an outspoken critic of the President, has been held since February on drug charges. She has decried charges against her as "political persecution."
Asked of the EU delegation's visit with De Lima, Cayetano said: “As I said, due process. It’s correct for them to try to see everybody and get the different points of view and that’s how dialogues work."
--Report from Trishia Billones, ABS-CBN News