Cayetano defends Philippine drug war during debate at UN General Assembly
Saying security and human rights are not incompatible, the Philippines said Sunday it will continue to uphold human rights in carrying out its responsibility to protect Filipinos from the threat posed by illegal drugs, criminality, and terrorism.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter S. Cayetano emphasized this in his statement during the High-Level Debate at the 72nd Session of the United Nations General Assembly where he also called on countries critical of Manila's ongoing campaign against illegal drugs to respect Philippine sovereignty.
“The Philippines integrates the human rights agenda in its development initiatives for the purpose of protecting everyone, especially the most vulnerable, from lawlessness, violence, and anarchy,” Cayetano said in his first appearance on the world stage.
"Security and human rights are not incompatible. Indeed, the first is our duty to the other," he said. "Without security, the most basic human rights, to life and safety, are constantly under attack?from terrorism, criminality, drug and human trafficking."
Cayetano reiterated Manila's commitment to its human rights obligations under the international treaties it has ratified.
According to the Secretary, it is the duty of any state to protect human life, human dignity, and human rights from aggression by other states, terrorism from non-state actors, and the destruction of societies and families from criminal networks trafficking in drugs, people and arms.
Cayetano reiterated that the Philippine Government's campaign against illegal drugs is a necessary instrument to preserve and protect the human rights of all Filipinos and was never an instrument to violate human rights.
He justified why President Rodrigo Duterte launched his campaign against the illegal drug trade, saying this is to save lives, preserve families, protect communities and stop the country from sliding into a narco-state.
"The very principle of the responsibility to protect must encompass first and foremost the vast majority of peaceful law-abiding people who must be protected from those who are not," he said. "It is for their safety and sustenance that states exist, and for which governments and leaders are responsible."
Cayetano, at the same time, told countries critical of Manila's campaign against illegal drugs to respect Philippine sovereignty and not tell it what to do.
"The Philippines expects its sovereignty to be respected, and that its democratically-elected government’s assessment of threats and how to go about addressing them shall be accorded preeminence among nations?or at least the benefit of their doubt," said Cayetano, who is representing Duterte in the annual diplomatic event.
The Secretary also cautioned other UN member-states against misinformation about its anti-illegal drugs campaign.
"Accusation before investigation is not proof. Nor is it fair. Abuses have occurred and mistakes have been made, tragic ones for sure," he said. "While one abuse is one too many, still the abuses are far less than the imaginary numbers of partisan accusers and publicity seekers."
"We should never tolerate human rights abuses but neither should we tolerate misinformation, fake news on and politicization of human rights, for these undermine our collective efforts as the United Nations to uphold the universality of human rights and dignity of human life," Cayetano said. DMS