President Rodrigo Duterte denounced what he described as efforts to weaponize human rights as he assured the United Nations that the Philippines is open to a dialog for as long as certain principles, including non-interference, are observed.
Duterte raised the issue of accusations of human rights violations against his administration in his taped message for the UN General Assembly.
“The Philippines will continue to protect the human rights of its people, especially from the scourge of illegal drugs, criminality, and terrorism. A number of interest groups have weaponized human rights; some well-meaning, others ill-intentioned.They attempt to discredit the functioning institutions and mechanisms of a democratic country and a popularly elected government which in its last two years, still enjoy the same widespread approval and support,” he said.
“These detractors pass themselves off as human rights advocates while preying on the most vulnerable humans; even using children as soldiers or human shields in encounters. Even schools are not spared from their malevolence and anti-government propaganda. They hide their misdeeds under the blanket of human rights but the blood oozes through.”
“To move forward, open dialogue and constructive engagement with the United Nations is the key. But these must be done in full respect of the principles of objectivity, noninterference, non-selectivity and genuine dialogue. These are the fundamental bases for productive international cooperation on human rights,” the President added.
Last month, at least 62 local and international civil society groups called on the United Nations Human Rights Council to establish an independent body to investigate the killings and other human rights violations in the Philippines.
“[W]e urge you to actively work towards the adoption of a resolution establishing an independent international investigative mechanism on extrajudicial executions and other human rights violations committed in the Philippines since 2016,” the groups said in their letter to the UNHRC dated Aug. 27.
In June, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet released a report on the "widespread and systematic" killings in the government's war on drugs.
Bachelet said the anti-drug campaign “is being carried out without due regard for the rule of law, due process, and the human rights of people who may be using or selling drugs.”