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Roque: Appeals by foreign countries to probe drug-related killings not needed

by admin   |   Posted on Monday, June 25th, 2018

FILE PHOTO: Presidential Spokesperson Secretary Harry Roque

There is no need for other countries to call on the Philippine government to look into drug-related killings because the administration is already doing the necessary investigations on these cases in the country.

This was according to Presidential Spokesperson Secretary Harry Roque in response to the recent appeal issued by Iceland on behalf of other member states of the United Nations Human Rights Council urging the Philippines to halt the killings resulting from its war on drugs.

“We urge the government of the Philippines to take all necessary measures to bring killings associated with the campaign against illegal drugs to an end and to cooperate with the international community to investigate all related deaths and hold all accountable,” the statement said as delivered by Ambassador Harald Aspelund, Permanent Representative of Iceland.

The group also insisted on the Philippines’ compliance to the “United Nations system including the Human Rights Council and its special procedure mandate holders – without preconditions or limitations.”

It should be recalled that the Duterte administration has banned UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Killings Agnes Callamard from investigating its anti-drug war campaign due to the latter’s alleged bias against the President.

Roque reiterated that an appeal from foreign countries is not necessary as the Philippine government has a record of the campaign’s fatalities to determine if proper procedure was indeed observed during drug operations.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano was also dismayed by the statement made by Iceland and other signatory countries after he invited them to personally visit the Philippines and see for themselves the human rights situation in the country.

“We regret that Iceland and several other countries maintained their position despite our offer for them to visit the Philippines and objectively asses the human rights situation, especially at the community level,” he said.

Cayetano added that it seems these countries are not interested in “arriving at the truth and would rather rely on the misinformation being fed to them by parties that have politicized and weaponized human rights.” — Rosalie Coz

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PH won’t withdraw from UN rights council – Locsin

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Tuesday, July 16th, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines will not withdraw from the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) despite its adoption of a resolution seeking to review the human rights situation in the country amid President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said Tuesday.

Locsin wrote on his Twitter account that the UNHRC vote was a “a small and harmless matter,” and the Philippines is “not severing diplomatic relations with any country.”

“We’re staying in UNHRC as a pedagogical duty to teach Europeans moral manners. We’re NOT severing diplomatic relations with any country. If we did, where’s the conversation? How do you insult those who insulted us if you cut them off?” he said.

Locsin earlier hinted at the Philippines’ possible withdrawal from the U.N. body following the adoption of a resolution led by Iceland. Eighteen countries voted for the resolution, 14 rejected it and 15 abstained.

“No embassy in Iceland. Nor does Iceland have an embassy here. Iceland took the place of the US after it withdrew from the Human Rights Council. I think we need to follow America more,” he said.

READ: Philippine eyes withdrawal from UN Human Rights Council

Malacañang has earlier expressed support for Locsin’s remark on severing diplomatic relations with Iceland, saying the Nordic island nation’s move which was supported by 17 other countries can be viewed as interference in the Philippines’ domestic affairs.

READ: PH mulls severing ties with Iceland, 17 other nations

Among the countries that voted in favor of the resolution are Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Fiji, Italy, Iceland, Mexico, Peru, Slovakia, Spain, Ukraine, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and Uruguay.

“’Pag ang isang bansa ay nagpapahayag ng mga posisyon na makakasira sa ating kasarinlan o sovereignty ay kailangang talagang putulin natin ang relasyon natin sa kanila kung wala silang gagawin kundi siraan tayo ng siraan sa mga kalakaran na di naman batay sa tunay na pangyayari dito sa ating bayan,” Panelo said.

(If a country is making declarations that are an affront to our independence or sovereignty, if they continue to do or say negative things that are not based on facts or occurrences in our country, then we need to sever our ties with them.)

However, Panelo said that Duterte will have the final say on the matter, as well as on a proposal for the Philippines to withdraw its membership from the UNHRC.

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PH mulls severing ties with Iceland, 17 other nations – Malacañang

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Monday, July 15th, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines is mulling over the possibility of cutting ties with Iceland and 17 other nations that voted in favor of a resolution calling on the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) to conduct a comprehensive review on the human rights situation in the Philippines amid President Rodrigo Duterte’s campaign against illegal drugs, Malacañang said Monday (July 15).

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said they will take a serious look into the country’s diplomatic relationship with other nations, adding that Iceland and other nations’ move can be considered as interference in the Philippines’ domestic affairs.

On July 11 (Thursday), 18 of the 47-member of the UNHRC voted to adopt the resolution filed by Iceland, tasking the UN Human Rights Office to prepare a comprehensive report on the Philippines’ human rights situation amid its ongoing anti-drug campaign.

Among the countries that voted in favor of the resolution are Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Fiji, Italy, Iceland, Mexico, Peru, Slovakia, Spain, Ukraine, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and Uruguay.

“’Pag ang isang bansa ay nagpapahayag ng mga posisyon na makakasira sa ating kasarinlan o sovereignty ay kailangang talagang putulin natin ang relasyon natin sa kanila kung wala silang gagawin kundi siraan tayo ng siraan sa mga kalakaran na di naman batay sa tunay na pangyayari dito sa ating bayan,” Panelo told reporters in a press briefing.

(If a country is making declarations that are affront to our independence or sovereignty, if they continue to do or say negative things that are not based on facts or occurrences in our country, then we need to sever our ties with them.)

However, Panelo said that Duterte will have the final say on the matter, as well as on calls for the Philippines to withdraw its membership from the UNHRC.

READ: Philippines eyes withdrawal from UN Human Rights Council

“In the ultimate analysis, he is the chief architect of foreign policy. Then, it’s the call of the President,” he said.

The palace official assured that they will also factor in every aspect, including the welfare of Filipinos living and working in the mentioned 18 countries, and circumstances that could lead to the cutting of ties.

The UN resolution asked the Philippine government to cooperate with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human rights, including preventing and refraining from all acts of intimidation of retaliations on human rights defenders.

The resolution also urged the Philippine government to take up measures against extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances, conduct impartial investigations of human rights violations and hold those involved accountable.

With the adoption of the Iceland-led resolution, UN rights chief Michelle Bachelet was tasked to prepare a report on the Philippines human rights situation by June 2020.

Although the Duterte administration does not consider the resolution a legally-binding document, Panelo said the government is willing to respond to the UN council’s formal questions or communication about Duterte’s war against illegal drugs.

“They have to believe what this government tells them, because this government does not lie,” Panelo said.

However, he stressed that the government will not oblige if the questions are designed to “embarrass” the Duterte administration. (with details from Rosalie Coz)

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Iceland hopes PH gov’t will work with UN drug war probe

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Monday, July 15th, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – The government of Iceland expressed hope that the Philippines will cooperate with the investigation that would be conducted by the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) amid allegations of human rights violation in relation with the government’s war on illegal drugs.

Icelandic Foreign Miniser Gudlaugur Thor Thordarson made the statement in response to President Rodrigo Duterte’s comments, slamming the Nordic island nation after it endorsed a resolution seeking a comprehensive report on the human rights situation in the Philippines.

“The resolution is very modest, focusing on impartiality and cooperation with the U.N. to get clarity around the contested facts. I sincerely hope that this will eventually prompt Philippine authorities to work with the U.N.,” he said.

Last Friday (July 12), Duterte criticized Iceland, saying it does not understand the problems faced by the Philippines.

“Ano ang problema ng Iceland? Ice lang. That’s your problem you have too much ice and there is no clear day or night there. Parang alas kwatro ng hapon ang araw pati gabi. So you can understand why there is no crime, there is no policemen either, and they just go about eating ice… they don’t understand the social, economic, political problems of the Philippines,” he said in a speech during the 28th anniversary celebration of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology in Camp Aguinaldo.

The UNHRC on Thursday adopted the Iceland-led resolution seeking for a comprehensive review on the alleged human rights violations under Duterte’s drug war.

Eighteen countries voted for the resolution, 14 rejected it, including the Philippines and China while 15 nations abstained.

With the adoption of the resolution, UN rights chief Michelle Bachelet was tasked to prepare a report on the Philippines’ human rights situation by June 2020.

The Philippine government has lambasted the passage of the resolution in a poll held in Geneva, Switzerland.

Malacañang earlier said the adoption of the ‘grotesquely one-sided’ resolution is an insult to the majority of Filipinos who expressed satisfaction on the kind of “forceful and effective” governance of Duterte.

READ: Palace slams UN resolution as ‘grotesquely one-sided’ and ‘insulting’

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin also rejected the Iceland-led resolution and warned of “far-reaching consequences” for nations who supported the resolution.

Rights advocates have claimed that thousands of people have died since Duterte launched his campaign against illegal drugs in 2016.

The Philippine Commission on Human Rights earlier called on the government to fully cooperate with the UN probe “to show that it has nothing to hide and is willing to adhere to the global standards expected of a member of the UNHRC.” (with details from Rosalie Coz)

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