Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano speaks next to the head of the Philippine delegation, Menardo Guevarra, during the universal periodic review by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights at the UN office in Geneva yesterday.
AFP
Philippines defends drug war, rights record before UN
Pia Lee-Brago (The Philippine Star) - May 9, 2017 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - There is no state policy to kill drug offenders and other lawbreakers as part of the Duterte administration’s war against drugs and criminality, a report submitted by a Philippine panel to a UN rights body in Geneva showed.

The submission of the report to the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights in Geneva was part of the third cycle Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of the status of human rights in the Philippines.

A team led by Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano presented the report to the rights body.

As the Philippines was defending its case, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein was urging US President Donald Trump to convey to President Duterte a “deep sense of alarm” over the human rights situation in the Philippines.

The report said the Philippine government “is focused on an aggressive and relentless fight against criminality and illegal drugs, requiring that all police and military operations be conducted within the bounds of law, and recognizing and respecting the rights and dignity of the accused.” 

It stated that Commission on Human Rights (CHR) Commissioner Gwen Pimentel-Gana, who heads the task force on extrajudicial killings (EJK), has herself acknowledged that “in the absence of government policy, the alleged EJKs cannot be considered state-sponsored.” The report said Gana made the declaration last March 27.

The report also cited surveys showing overwhelming public support for the Duterte administration’s campaign against criminality and illegal drugs. 

“Latest statistics from Pulse Asia show that 82 percent of Metro Manila residents feel safer because of (government’s)  campaign against illegal drugs,” the report read.

The report cited what it called baseless and malicious lumping together of deaths under investigation as EJKs in the conduct of the war on drugs.

“They are not. Those deaths under investigation are classified as homicide or murder under Philippine law and policy,” it said.

As of March 24, the report said some 1,427 or 23.7 percent of the reported deaths had been resolved and 76.3 percent being investigated.

The Philippine National Police (PNP) earlier clarified that the motives behind many of the killings were not drug-related or are undetermined.

“In keeping with the state’s duty to promote and protect human rights and fundamental freedoms, the people’s campaign against illegal drugs is pursued to preserve the lives of the Filipino people and protect the country from turning into a narco-state,” the report said.

It noted that the government is determined to prioritize human security to prevent anarchy and the destruction of the Filipino family.

According to the report, data from the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency show that 95.47 percent of drug offenders arrested were users of methamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu, which the World Health Organization (WHO) has found to be associated with cognitive impairment, aggression and violence, and social and family disruption.

The report also stated that based on data, criminal activities have gone down by 30 percent since the start of the administration’s stepped up campaign against illegal drugs in July last year.

“Hence, the narcotics problem is not just a health issue; it is a national security issue,” it stated.

The government said that “in protecting the right to life, health and personal security of our people,” it has “embarked on a rights-based campaign to eliminate the drug menace.”

The approach, implemented by the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs, covers not only law enforcement operations to strengthen the rule of law, but also the rehabilitation and reintegration of surrendering drug users.

It also emphasized the PNP strongly condemns vigilantism in any form and does not tolerate extrajudicial methods in its anti-crime operations. – With Artemio Dumlao

 

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