President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday called out Iceland for filing a resolution
before the United Nations Human Rights Council to probe drug-related deaths in the government’s campaign against illegal drugs.
Itong mga gagong ito [these fools], they don’t understand the social, political problems of the Philippines,” President Duterte said in a speech on the 28th anniversary of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology.
READ: Iceland meddling in drugs war hit
“Ano ang problema ng Iceland? Ice lang. [What’s their problem? Just ice.] That’s your problem, you have too much ice and there is no clear day or night there. So you can understand, there is no crime, there is no policeman,” Duterte said.
Earlier, the Palace on Friday condemned the resolution of the UNHRC calling for an investigation of human rights violations in the country, saying it is designed to embarrass the Philippines before the international community.
Duterte said the countries criticizing him believed the claims of Senator Leila De Lima, a vocal critic of the President’s war on drugs.
De Lima, while she was still Justice secretary in the previous Aquino administration, revealed that Duterte is behind a vigilante group murdering people involved in illegal drugs.
“They believe hook line and sinker, that De Lima,” the President said.
“I’m asking human rights people. Is it wrong to say, ‘If you destroy my country, I will kill you?’” Duterte said.
In a statement, Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said the resolution proposed by Iceland before the UNHRC was “grotesquely one-sided” and “maliciously partisan.”
“It reeks of nauseating politics completely devoid of respect for the sovereignty of our country, even as it is bereft of the gruesome realities of the drug menace in the country,” he said.
His statement came after the UNHRC narrowly adopted the Iceland-proposed resolution
to investigate the deaths related to the government’s campaign against illegal drugs.
Eighteen member states backed the resolution while 14 opposed it. Fifteen abstained.
The resolution requests the UNHRC to present a comprehensive report
on the human rights situation in the Philippines amid the anti-narcotics crackdown.
“Evidently, the resolution was designed to embarrass the Philippines before the international community and the global audience. The Philippines is a sovereign state, undeserving of any intrusion by any country, under whatever disguised lofty principle it advances,” Panelo said.
Duterte was widely criticized for his war on illegal drugs because thousands of drug suspects—including children—were killed during police operations.
“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. Their intrusive abuse is patent and condemnable. It smacks of politicization designed to force our free state to be subservient to their imagined superiority,” Panelo said.
Panelo also questioned the validity of the resolution, claiming that most of the members of UNHRC were “not really convinced” about the need for an investigation.
“The subject resolution not only was not unanimously adopted, but it didn’t even get a simple majority of the 47 countries. The voting is not decisive in its favor. Only 18 countries out of the 47 member-countries voted for the resolution. A simple majority would have been 24,” Panelo said.
“This means that majority of the members are not really convinced of the resolution calling for the investigation of the so-called extrajudicial killings in our country,” he added.
But a local human rights group said that an independent investigation on the human rights violations committed in the country is “long overdue.”
“This is not a numbers game, as what this callous government tries to reason out. This systematic and state-perpetrated butchering of the Filipino people has reached international concern, and the clamor for change will only echo louder from here on,” Karapatan secretary-general Cristina Palabay said.
“We reiterate that this is not an issue of sovereignty, but of accountability,” she added.
The Commission on Human Rights in the Philippines also supported the UNHRC resolution and urged the government to allow and cooperate with a thorough, transparent and independent investigation into the alleged human rights abuses.
“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,” the commission said in a statement.
Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said if everything is above-board, the government has nothing to worry about.
“Let’s project statesmanship and maturity as a country. Let’s keep an open mind, not shut doors to international bodies objectively looking into the issue,” Drilon said.
READ: UN Rights Council adopts reso on PH drug war
“We will rise to the challenge and the challenge is to improve the human rights situation in the country,” he said.
Instead of imputing malice on a legitimate action performed by highly respected organizations such as the UNHRC, Drilon said the government must be able to show strong resolve to address the issue.
Senator Panfilo Lacson, on the other hand, said the Philippines can manage without the intervention of the UNHRC.
“We have a functioning criminal justice system that deals adequately with erring law enforcers,” Lacson said.
“We regularly provide our Commission on Human Rights the budget they need to perform their mandate,” he added.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. questioned the validity of the resolution since it was “not universally adopted.”
Locsin further described as politically partisan and one-sided the Iceland resolution, reiterating Manila’s position to reject it.
“It cannot, in good conscience, abide by it. We will not accept a politically partisan and one-sided resolution, so detached from the truth on the ground. It comes straight from the mouth of the Queen in Alice in Wonderland, ‘First the judgment, then the proof’,” he said.
The 18 states that voted “yes” include Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Fiji, Iceland, Italy, Mexico, Peru, Slovakia, Spain, Ukraine, the United Kingdom including Northern Ireland, and Uruguay.
A total of 14 nations, on the other hand, voted “no,” including Angola, Bahrain, Cameroon, Hungary, China, Cuba, Egypt, Eritrea, India, Iraq, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Somalia.
Fifteen countries abstained, including Japan, South Africa, Brazil, and Pakistan.
In the wake of the UN resolution, Senator Ronald dela Rosa, the former national police chief who oversaw the bloody war on drugs, said he would cut off his head if it were proven that extrajudicial killings in the Philippines are state-sponsored.
Activists said they had initially hoped the UN would demand a formal “inquiry,” but compromised on calling for a “report” to win the vote.
It gives UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet a year to prepare a “comprehensive written report on the situation of human rights in the Philippines.”
Bachelet’s spokeswoman, Ravina Shamdasani, said the report would offer an opportunity to “get clarity around the contested facts, figures and circumstances” of the drug war.
Speaking shortly before the resolution was approved, Duterte called the text “crazy” but said he would consider allowing UN rights staff into the country.
READ: UN Rights Council to take up Iceland reso on PH drug war
“Let them state their purpose and I will review it,” he said.
When then UN rights chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein raised concern about the drug war in 2016, Duterte called him an “idiot” and a “son of a bitch.”
The deputy Geneva director for Human Rights Watch, Leila Matar, described the resolution as “a modest but vital” step that “signals the start of accountability for thousands of ‘drug war’-related killings.”
Amnesty International hailed Thursday’s vote as “crucial.”
It “provides hope for thousands of bereaved families in the Philippines, and countless more Filipinos bravely challenging the Duterte administration’s murderous ‘war on drugs’,” Amnesty’s regional director for East and Southeast Asia, Nicholas Bequelin, said in a statement.
In addition to calling for a report by Bachelet, the resolution raises concerns over other alleged abuses under Duterte, including “killings, enforced disappearances, arbitrary arrest and detention.”
The drug war, launched in 2016, is Duterte’s signature initiative, and he has often reacted with fury when outsiders have raised concerns about it. With AFP and PNA