UN flummoxed by PH reaction

A United Nations senior official has warned there will be consequences if the Philippines would reject the results of the UN review of the country’s human rights situation, with one senator suggesting the Philippines cut ties immediately with Iceland.

Iceland drafted a resolution on July 4 which pushed the United Nations Human Rights Council to call for concrete actions against the rising number of killings in the Philippines, including those under the violent anti-illegal drug campaign.

READ: UN Rights Council to take up Iceland reso on PH drug war

Agnes Callamard, UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, told CNN Philippines Friday: “Of course, it [the Philippines] can continue to reject the call of the international community, it can continue to ignore the calls from within the Philippines itself, it can continue to do all of those things. 

“However, I think every refusal will eventually have a much higher price that it does right now. Eventually, there will be a cost attached to the denial and to the violations.” 

In related developments:

• Former presidential spokesperson and human rights lawyer Harry Roque sees nothing wrong with the Philippine National Police releasing data on killings linked to anti-drug operations if they have nothing to hide.

“Personally, it would be better for the police to prepare data and give the same to the High Commissioner on Human Rights,” he said in Tagalog, in an interview Saturday on Dobol B sa News TV heard nationwide.

“They would be able to show there that many of those who died tried to fight back,” he added, still talking in Tagalog.

Roque was weighing in on a resolution adopted by the UNHRC which instructed UN rights chief Michelle Bachelet to write a comprehensive report on the human rights situation in the Philippines and present it to the council.

As the report will look into thousands of deaths linked to the Duterte administration’s drug war, PNP chief Police General Oscar Albayalde claimed there was no need to do so as the country’s own Commission on Human Rights was capable of investigating the matter.

As to whether the PNP would provide data to the UNHCR in line with the resolution, Albayalde said he would leave the decision to higher authorities.

• In the Senate, Senator Imee Marcos wants the Philippines to immediately cut ties with Iceland, saying the Philippines should “cut diplomatic ties with Iceland ASAP,” citing how developed nations should not impose on other sovereign countries.

“A strong statement is in order that the values and political agenda of other countries, many of them developed countries like Iceland, cannot be imposed on an independent country like the Philippines,” Marcos said in a statement Saturday.

Marcos pointed out that “not even half” of the 47-member rights body voted for the resolution, echoing Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr.’s response that “the resolution was not universally adopted.”

Marcos also hit developed nations for allowing abortion, saying this showed their “distorted values and double-standard morality.”

“They point a finger at the Philippines for alleged human rights violations, yet they justify the killing of defenseless, unborn children,” said Marcos.

Marcos said other countries “cannot presume to know better how we should enforce our own drug laws.”

The Philippine government has condemned the UN Human Rights Council’s approval of a resolution on Thursday that asks the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to probe the killings and other alleged human rights abuses in the country. 

Locsin, Jr. said any probe resulting from the resolution “will not be allowed in the country” and warned  “there will be consequences” as the human rights body has insulted Filipinos in passing a baseless measure.

Callamard said, “rejection of the resolution itself may not have a cost, what will have a cost is the rejection of the findings of the inquiry.”

“The cost can take many shapes—it can be sanctions, it can be something related to the assistance, developmental assistance, it can be symbolic, it can be economic, it can be political,” she explained.

But Callamard stressed the sanctions were a “last remedy,” hoping that the Philippines would eventually heed the call of the international community.

“I’m hoping that the resolution is sending a signal to the government that they must proceed with the recommendations which are: investigate properly all the killings that have taken place at the hands of the police, put an end to the brutal war on drugs, adopt a human rights-based approach to fighting crimes,” Callamard said.

“What we really, really want is for the government to do the right thing.”

Iceland’s resolution, which 18 other states of the 47-member Human Rights Council voted to adopt, also urged the Philippines to conduct an independent investigation into the killings and alleged rights violations. 

Fourteen other nations, including the Philippines and China, voted against it. The remaining 15 abstained.

On the part of the United Nations, Callamard said the next step would be for it to identify who will lead its probe, and determine how it will be conducted if the government would refuse access to investigators. 

Callamard herself previously tried to investigate the country’s bloody war on drugs but was repeatedly criticized and threatened by President Rodrigo Duterte.

Callamard said it was “very unlikely” for her to be tapped to help out with the review now, noting that the investigation is all up to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. 

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Topics: United Nations , Iceland , United Nations Human Rights Council , anti-illegal drug campaign , Agnes Callamard
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