Gov't always ''open'' on war vs illegal drugs
Presidential Human Rights Committee (PHRC) executive director Severo Catura on Thursday said the Duterte administration has always been “open” since the start of their campaign against illegal drugs.
In a press briefing, Catura said there is no need for an international investigation on the government's “war on drugs” just to prove there is no state-sponsored killing.
“The Philippines has always been open with regards to its track record in so far as human rights matters are concerned,” he said.
Catura said the reason the government rejects the Iceland resolution is because it removes the effectiveness of other UN mechanism where the country is involved.
“For instance, every four years, we are reviewed under the universal periodic review of no less than the UN Human Rights Council. So there is already a report on that. We are signatory to eight core international tributes of which we report periodically and the reports are online,” he said.
Catura said they submit updates if there are concerns being raised by UN rapporteurs. He added that updates are also given to special UN rapporteur Agnes Callamard.
“So all these mechanisms, all these information are out there. So what is the need for a specific country resolution compelling the Philippines to undergo same review mechanism? So that totally disregards everything,” he said.
Catura said this is not the first time Iceland made a statement on Philippines’ war on drugs.
Catura called the resolution of Iceland seeking a probe in the country's campaign against illegal drugs as a form of “bullying.”
“As we have said in our statements, we do not see this as something that is effective. We see this as something that is a form of bullying and we cannot stand any sort of bullying,” he said.
“All mechanisms are there. We have never shy away from engagements and I think Iceland has tried to- It created an environment wherein certain states out of caprice will just come out with a resolution that we need to look at it," he added.
He cited the previous administration’s definition of extrajudicial killings as it is being used by critics of the government as a term for alleged drug suspects who are killed during police operations.
Based on government’s data, around 5,500 drug personalities were killed from July 1, 2016 to June 30, 2019.
“We need to clarify that these are not extrajudicial killings. This has been already clarified even by the last administration,” he said.
“I need to standby the definition which was clarified by the last administration which defined extrajudicial killing only involved killings of militant activist and people with political participation. Crime committed because they are related to drug is never classified as extrajudicial killings,” Catura added.
He said allowing a foreign investigator to come will only result to politicizing the incident.
“Because this is what will happen: if somebody comes over here given the very political environment, as such, will only be taking advantage of certain interest groups rather than focusing perhaps on the passive aspects of what we are doing they could simply be focused on the groups,” he said.
Eighteen countries, including Iceland, out of the 47-member UNHRC have voted for the resolution against the Philippines during the recent UN body's 41st session in Geneva.
It adopted the Iceland-initiated resolution calling for the investigation on the Philippines' war on drugs.
The PHRC was created in 2002 as an advisory body to the President to effectively address all human rights issues in the country. Ella Dionisio/DMS