The United Nations Human Rights Council will consider this week a resolution calling for an investigation into reported human rights violations and crimes under international law committed in the Philippines’ war on illegal drugs.
Amnesty International urged the council to support the resolution, “given the gravity of ongoing violations, the total lack of accountability for thousands of extrajudicial killings, and the country’s complete refusal to cooperate with the UN or the International Criminal Court (ICC).”
The resolution, tabled by Iceland, mandates the High Commissioner to provide a comprehensive report into human rights violations in the Philippines, for consideration at a later date.
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“The reality is that Philippines government has sealed off all avenues for domestic accountability. During our investigation, we spoke to families, witnesses, lawyers and religious leaders who were in despair at the obstacles stopping them from seeking justice—and the lack of any meaningful prosecution for thousands of unlawful killings over the last three years clearly demonstrates it,” said Nicholas Bequelin, Amnesty International’s regional director for East and Southeast Asia.
“This resolution would mark a vital step towards accountability and justice for victims of the government’s campaign of extrajudicial executions and other human rights violations. Member states with a vote at the council must support it and not shy away from their responsibilities. Their very credibility is at stake,” Bequelin said.
As it awaited the key vote on Thursday in New York (Friday in Manila), Amnesty denied accusations from the Duterte administration that it was politicizing the issue.
In a statement posted in its website, the London-based human rights group told Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo to “do his homework first” by reading its report before making a response.
“Accusing Amnesty International of politicizing the issue of extrajudicial executions is just another way of muddling the Duterte administration’s accountability and its complicity on the gravity of this problem,” its statement read.
Amnesty said the basis of their report came from the Philippine National Police.
“The figures we cited in our report ‘They Just Kill’ come from Philippine National Police’s own data. Therefore, we cannot produce the basis for any data that was made public by the PNP,” AI said.
“We suggest next time before the honorable presidential spokesperson makes a response, he should at least do his homework first by reading our report,” the statement read.
Amnesty also said it has no political agenda and its “only business is to ensure the protection of human rights.”
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In an interview on radio dzMM, Bulacan Gov. Daniel Fernando said the Amnesty report naming his province as the “bloodiest killing field” in the country’s drug war was saddening and alarming.
He said that while he supported the war on drugs, it must be waged in a manner that ensures human rights are not violated.
Also on Wednesday, Human Rights Watch took to task Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. for saying that if the vote went in favor of Iceland’s resolution, those who worked from it could expect bonuses from the drug cartels.
“This is an outrageous and malicious statement by the Philippines’ top diplomat. It shows the desperation of the Philippine government to frustrate accountability for its atrocious ‘drug war’,” the group’s Philippines researcher Carlos Conde said.
At a forum Wednesday, opposition Senator Risa Hontiveros said she wanted to hear President Rodrigo Duterte declare an end to the bloody war on drugs and the release of detained Senator Leila de Lima in his fourth State of the Nation Address.
She said she also wants the President to stand up to China in the West Philippine Sea after three years of not doing so.
“But after that, I’d wake up,” she quipped in Filipino. With Macon Ramos-Araneta