FOUR senators said Wednesday they believed it was time to allow UN special rapporteur Agnes Callamard to investigate the alleged summary killings in the country as a result of the government’s war on drugs after 45 out of 47 nations requested it.
Panfilo Lacson, Bam Aquino, Francis Pangilinan and Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III said the investigation should be allowed, especially if the country was not hiding anything.
“When 45 nations say there is something wrong with the country’s anti-drug campaign, maybe it’s time to pause and rethink the government’s tactical approach in combating the drug menace that has plagued our country for at least four generations,” Lacson said.
In other developments:
• Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II on Wednesday ordered the National Bureau of Investigation to investigate the killings reportedly related to the government’s intensified drive against illegal drugs.
He also required the NBI to submit a periodic inventory with a status report on all the cases it is investigating.
• The government has begun drafting the next Philippine Human Rights Action Plan for the next five years to mainstream the government’s human rights agenda.
Senator Alan Peter Cayetano made the report during the third cycle of the Universal Periodic Review on May 8, when he assured that the plan would have initiatives to protect the citizens particularly, the most vulnerable sectors.
• The administration of President Rodrigo Duterte has a new tactic to deflect mounting foreign criticism of its murderous “war on drugs” that has killed thousands: simply deny those deaths are anything out of the ordinary, Human Rights Watch said on Wednesday.
On Monday, Cayetano deployed that approach in Geneva at the United Nations Universal Periodic Review of the Philippines human rights record, said Phelim Kine, deputy director, Asia Division of Human Rights Watch.
Kine said Cayetano rejected outright reports of the high death tolls linked to the drug war as “alternative facts” with no basis in reality.
Lacson, chairman of the Senate committee on public order and dangerous drugs, said there was no quick solution to the drug problem, and therefore the law-enforcement agencies must seriously consider a long battle without the pressure of a self-imposed deadline.
“I hate sounding like a broken record, but internal discipline among our law enforcement agencies plays an important role in this regard,” Lacson said.
Aquino said when 45 out of 47 countries made a formal request for the Philippines to investigate the killings as a result of the war on drugs, that was already a wake-up call.
“The whole world is looking for accountability on our part. If the request is to have a formal investigation happen, we should grant that request,” he said.
Pimentel said if the country had nothing to hide, “let them all come here to do their work and also to enjoy their time over here.”
Pangilinan and Pimentel said if 45 countries were speaking and hitting the Philippines, this was proof that something was wrong and there should be change in the war on illegal drugs.
Cayeytano said a Philippine Human Rights Action Plan under the Duterte administration for the next five years was already being prepared.
The plan seeks to mainstream the government’s human rights agenda in its development initiatives to protect all, especially the most vulnerable sectors.
The Human Rights Plan of the past administration was crafted in 2012.
Cayetano cited the President’s statement during his first State-of-the-Nation Address in July 2016: “There can never be real, tangible and felt development without making our people feel secure.”
He said the issuance of an Executive Order institutionalizing the Freedom of Information in the executive branch as well as the installation of a direct complaint hot line to the Office of the President were clear proof that President Duterte was for accountability in the government.