MANILA, Jun 9, 2019, PhilStar. The Department of Foreign Affairs rejected a call by United Nations special rapporteurs for an independent probe into alleged human rights violations in the Philippines. In a statement, the DFA said the call was “made in bad faith” and warned a probe may “undermine domestic processes,” reported the Philippine Star.
“We reject this call as it is being made in bad faith by parties who want to undermine domestic processes and spread disinformation, on the basis of one-sided reports coming from questionable sources,” the DFA said.
“This action indicates the refusal of these parties to engage in true dialogue,” it added.
The DFA made the statement after 11 special rapporteurs urged the UN Human Rights Council last Friday to look into the “staggering number of unlawful deaths and police killings in the context of the so-called war on drugs, as well as killings of human rights defenders.”
The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency’s latest data acknowledges the deaths of 5,281 “drug personalities” died in anti-narcotics operations. The record was part of the #RealNumbersPH data release in January.
The government’s #RealNumberPH campaign is an effort to counter allegedly false information on the so-called war on drugs. The data releases were initially done every month but the tempo of the releases has slowed since 2018.
At least 39 rights advocates were killed in the Philippines in 2018, Dublin-based Front Line Defenders, which focuses on human rights workers at risk, said in a global situationer in January.
In a joint statement, the experts pointed out: “Instead of sending a strong message that these killings and harassment are unacceptable, there is a rising rhetoric against independent voices in the country and ongoing intimidation and attacks against voices who are critical of the government, including independent media, human rights defenders, lawyers and journalists.”
The 11 experts, who do not speak for the UN include Agnes Callamard, a vocal critic of President Rodrigo Duterte’s drug war. Duterte has threatened to slap Callamard, who was a frequent subject of his fiery comments in 2017.
The DFA said it fears that the experts may “show their bias” in their proposed investigation.
“By ignoring the accountability and other information provided by the Philippines in good faith, these parties show their bias and political agenda and assail the credibility and objectivity of the human rights mechanisms as constructive platforms of dialogue between the United Nations and the member states,” the DFA said.
The DFA said the “Philippines is a democratic nation with strong institutions and the government has an unshakeable determination to promote and protect the human rights of every Filipino.”
Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. has been supportive of the government’s approach to illegal drugs and has asserted that most Filipinos are too.
“The elections were a referendum on Duterte and his war on drugs. He and the war just won. So shut the f**k up on that subject everybody. The war goes on,” he said in May.
Earlier, Malacañang also slammed the call for independent probe into the human rights situation in the country saying it is an “outrageous interference” into the Philippine policies.
“The latest call by 11 special rapporteurs of the United Nations for an international probe of the Philippines not only is intellectually challenged but an outrageous interference on Philippine sovereignty,” presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said on Saturday.
Panelo also called the international human rights experts “propagandists.”
“Lest these foreign propagandists, masquerading as human right protectors, forget, allegations are not proof. One or two of them have tried this [tack] using some gullible if not biased local and foreign media sowing the seeds of negative force and perpetuating them,” he said.