The government on Monday rejected the Iceland-led resolution adopted by the UN Human Rights Council calling for a comprehensive report on alleged human rights violations in the Philippines’ war on illegal drugs.
In a statement, the Office of the Executive Secretary said the resolution was supported by only 18 countries, a minority of the council’s 47 members, and passed without verifying the facts.
“We reject this resolution because, through it, a minority has short-circuited and rendered inutile the time-honored mechanisms by which the UN maintains the accountability of member-states, such as the treaty body system and the UNHRC’s Universal Periodic Review,” the statement said.
“The Philippines, as one of the pioneering members of the UN, has been abiding by these mechanisms, as they embody the processes that give due credence to member-states’ accountability and transparency. It is through such mechanisms that the human rights concerns mentioned in the resolution should have been taken up, verified and addressed.”
The resolution, it said, was “a pernicious act, an affront to a sovereign, peace-loving nation, and an abuse of UNHRC processes.”
In the wake of the resolution’s approval, Senate President Vicente Sotto III said the Philippines would realize savings by pulling out of the UNHRC since it paid $8.2 million as a mandatory contribution last year.
This would save the country up to P445 million a year, he said, expressing support for a suggestion from Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. that the Philippines withdraw from the UN agency.
In a Twitter Post, Locsin suggested that the Philippines could follow the example of the United States and withdraw from the UNHRC.
“No embassy in Iceland. Nor does Iceland have an embassy here,” he said in a tweet in response to several queries. “Iceland took the place of the US after it withdrew from the Human Rights
Council. I think we need to follow America more.”
The US withdrew from the UNHRC last year due to its decision to hold Israel accountable for alleged human rights violations in Gaza and the Occupied Territories, accusing the UN body of a “chronic bias against Israel.”
On Thursday, the UNHRC voted to adopt the Iceland resolution, with 18 countries voting in favor, 14 voting against it, and 15 abstaining.
The resolution calls on UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet “to prepare a
comprehensive written report” on the alleged human rights violations in the Philippines’ war on drugs.
Senator Panfilo Lacson said at the rate the country was withdrawing from UN bodies, it would soon find itself isolated.
In March, the government withdrew from the International Criminal Court, another UN agency, after it launched a preliminary examination of possible crimes in the Philippines’ war on drugs.
But Lacson said that as a developing country, the Philippines might need to ask for help from the community of nations sooner or later.
Senator Francis Pangilinan said the government could run but not hide.
“Sooner or later, we will have to explain if not to the international community at the very least to ourselves and our citizens why tens of thousands have been killed,” he said.
Despite the killings, he added, the drug menace had only become worse, with drug syndicates and their cohorts in the Bureau of Customs smuggling in tons of illegal drugs going unpunished.
The Commission on Human Rights, meanwhile, said the UNHRC would not have sought a report on the anti-drug war if the police had shared details of its bloody campaign with the local commission.
In an interview with the ANC news channel, Commissioner Karen Dumpit said the police have not responded to CHR’s requests for details on the 6,600 drug-related deaths since 2016.
“They have not done what they said they will do: that they will turn over information they have so that we can also probe properly. We wouldn’t have come to this point if the government has been open about all these investigations,” she said.