The Iceland-backed resolution which seeks to probe the Duterte administration’s war on drugs before the United Nations Human Rights Council is a form of “bullying,” an official from the Presidential Human Rights Committee said.
In a press briefing, PHRC Executive Director Undersecretary Severo Catura said the PHRC, the primary advisory body to the President in addressing the country’s human rights issues, viewed the resolution supported by 18 countries as “ineffective.”
“We do not see this as something that is effective. We see this as something that is a form of bullying. We cannot stand this sort of bullying,” he said.
Catura, who described the same resolution as divisive, said its passage nullifies other mechanisms in the international human rights body where Manila has been “very much involved.”
He also said that it “created an environment wherein certain states out of caprice will just come out with a resolution that we need to look at it.”
“What is the need for a specific country resolution compelling the Philippines to undergo the same review mechanism? So that totally disregards everything. That’s what we are trying to say,” the PHRC official said.
Last week, the UNHRC has voted to adopt the Iceland resolution, which will look into the human rights situation, including the drug-related killings, in the country.
With 18 countries voting in favor of the draft resolution, 14 voting against it, and 15 abstaining, the resolution asked the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet “to prepare a comprehensive written report” on the matter.
Malacañang has previously slammed the adoption of the resolution, with Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. questioning its validity.
Locsin had said that Manila will not cut ties with Reykjavik over the resolution, but Duterte remarked that he was “seriously considering” severing diplomatic relations with the Nordic country, adding that at least 2,000 Filipinos will be affected once it pushes through.
Meanwhile, Senator Imee R. Marcos on Thursday said that a UNHRC resolution calling for a human rights review of the Philippines can still be withdrawn as it is was not yet final.
She said there is no United Nations rule that stops UNHRC member states from changing their original votes that led to the July 12 resolution.
“History shows it has been done before involving a very profound issue,” she said.
Marcos noted that Israel today is a globally recognized state because of vote changes on a UN resolution legitimizing its statehood.
“Thanks to lobbying by United States diplomats in Israel’s favor,” said Marcos.
“Our country’s top diplomat can demand from any foreign ambassador based here to explain their country’s vote in favor of the controversial UN resolution initiated by Iceland,” Marcos added.
From there, an amicable and mutually beneficial decision may be reached, she said.
“The Philippines can also negotiate with European Union states that are non-members of the UNHRC to speak with EU members who voted,” Marcos added.
She insisted that diplomatic ties with Iceland should be cut because “it had no reason to antagonize the Philippines.”
“Whatever political agenda Iceland has because of its floundering balance of trade, the resolution it sponsored to review allegations of human rights abuse in the Philippines is sheer hypocrisy,” Marcos said.
“Let me say it once again: Legalized abortion up to 22 weeks into a pregnancy in Iceland is a state-sponsored human rights violation against defenseless, unborn children,” the neophyte senator said.
Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima, however, deplored Malacanang’s deliberate effort to downplay the number of killings which she claimed stemmed from the Duterte administration’s bloodiest war against illegal drugs.
De Lima said the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) should not treat the deaths as mere numbers, but it must take into account that these victims have families and loved ones who are still suffering from their demise.
De Lima issued the statement after a PCOO official declared that the 20,000 death toll from the government’s campaign against illegal drugs is “very much bloated.”
According to PCOO Assistant Secretary Ramon Cualoping III, authorities have pegged the number of deaths in the Duterte drug war at around 6,000, with many of them killed during firefights.
The detained senator, who used to chairhe Commission on Human Rights, said the government should put premium in ensuring that these killings are solved, instead of wasting its time in disputing the exact numbers of casualties from Duterte’s drug war.
“Numbers are not the real issue. Under a senseless and misdirected ‘war on drugs’, one death is one too many. One death of an innocent child is totally unacceptable as it is reprehensible,” she said.