MANILA – Malacañang on Friday said it will never accept foreign intervention in its internal affairs, after 39 member-states of the United Nations expressed serious concern over alleged extra-judicial killings in the Duterte administration's war on drugs.
The Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (Forum-Asia) on Thursday said the member-states urged the Philippines to probe the killings and protect human rights defenders through a joint statement issued by Iceland.
The member-states urged the Philippines to "cooperate with the international community to pursue appropriate investigations into these incidents, in keeping with the universal principles of democratic accountability and the rule of law."
Responding to the call of the 39 UN member-states, Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella insisted there is no culture impunity in the Philippines amid the government’s crackdown on the illegal drug trade.
He said accusations of extrajudicial killings must be proven in court or it will remain “hearsay.”
"Unfortunately, it still appears that some parties refuse to understand certain aspects of our human rights efforts. So let us be clear. There is no culture of impunity in the Philippines,” Abella said in a statement.
"The State is investigating all credible allegations of human rights violations by all its agents and will continue to do so, consistent with our constitution and laws, and in compliance with the spirit of our national traditions of liberty and democracy.”
Abella also assured that the country’s justice system does not tolerate state-sponsored extrajudicial killings, even as he slammed foreign governments for telling the Philippines how to manage its own affairs.
“[Rest] assured that we will be unswerving in carrying out our duty to protect our people from the scourges of drugs, corruption and criminality so that with inclusive development and social justice, they may attain lives of dignity in a prosperous nation,” he said.
"To achieve these ends, we will always be happy to accept the help of our foreign friends. But we will never accept dictation on how we are managing our own internal domestic processes.”
In defending the human rights situation in the Philippines, Abella also pointed to the move of the United Nations Human Rights Council to accept Manila’s report to the 36th session of its Universal Periodic Review at the UN Human Rights Council.
"Our recent Universal Periodic Review (UPR) showed the whole world our record in the human rights field. Our accomplishments were well recognized,” Abella said.
Critics have pointed out that the adoption of the report was merely “procedural.”
Lauro Baja, former Philippine Permanent Representatives to the UN told VERA Files that country reports are always accepted.
Abella responded to this criticism, saying “it is quite irresponsible for certain parties who dismiss the UNHRC’s action on the Philippines’ involvement and commitment in the UPR as merely ‘procedural.’”
The Philippines did not fully accept more than half of the recommendations it received during the Universal Periodic Review.
Forum-Asia reiterated Human Rights Watch's call for the UN Human Rights Council to step in and end the violent drug war if the Philippines will not comply with its international human rights responsibilities.
"If the situation in the country does not improve, the UN Human Rights Council must pass a resolution at its next session in March, establishing an international, independent investigation into killings associated with the 'war on drugs'," Forum-Asia executive director John Samuel said.
The following countries signed the joint statement: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malta, Moldova, Montenegro, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, The Netherlands, UK, Ukraine, and United States.
During the UN General Assembly earlier this week, Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano insisted that the Duterte administration's war on illegal drugs does not violate human rights and does not tolerate abuse of cops.
"The Philippines’ comprehensive campaign against illegal drugs is a necessary instrument to preserve and protect human rights of all Filipinos. It is never an instrument to violate any individuals' or groups' human rights," he said.
Latest police estimates placed the number of drug suspects slain in legitimate police operations at around 3,800.