Palace says UN rapporteur comments ''reckless"
Malacanang on Thursday said United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of Human Rights defenders Michel Forst's statement about the administration's war on illegal drugs is not only "reckless but irresponsible."
"The recent call of United Nations Special Rapporteur (UNSR) Michel Forst not only is reckless but irresponsible as well for it not only demeans the integrity of the UNSR system but the entire UN mechanism itself," Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said in a statement.
"We are fed up with this practice of using the UN as a platform to parrot baseless criticisms of local interest groups who are supported by resentful politicians belonging to the opposition," he added.
Panelo said UN has been used by the administration's detractors as a tool for "vilification" and UNSRs should be "less gullible" as this reinforces President Rodrigo Duterte's contempt for their consistently manifested bias against the country.
"What the public should understand is the fact that the Philippines is a UN member-state and a member of the UN Human Rights Council, being recently elected by 165 States to a fifth term. This bolsters our position that respect for human rights and its advocates is being upheld by this Administration," he said.
Forst, in his yearly report Tuesday, said the Duterte government has created a climate of insecurity and impunity for extrajudicial killings that affects human rights defenders.
"Duterte has fostered very harmful rhetoric against human rights defenders, labelling them as anti-nation, protectors of drug lords, communist, terrorist and others," Forst said.
"Additionally, human rights defenders have been subject to arbitrary arrest and prosecution, including over trumped up charges. Human rights defenders and political dissidents also report some form of surveillance by law enforcement personnel," he said citing detained Senator Leila de Lima as an example.
Forst said the government must reaffirm its commitment to the rule of law and ensure that human rights violations are properly investigated, including those allegedly committed by state actors, to make the perpetrators accountable and mitigate the culture of impunity.
Panelo told Forst to check his facts first, as those organizations presenting themselves as so-called human rights defenders never had it so good under the Duterte administration.
"They continue to fully exercise all their rights to air issues and concerns related to their advocacies in an environment that is free and secure from any threat or harassment," Panelo said.
Panelo challenged local groups that give false information to the UN rapporteur to submit their alleged cases of violations against their members to proper authorities such as the Inter-Agency Committee under Administrative Order 35 which is charged with handling cases of extrajudicial killings, torture, enforced disappearances and other grave violations of the right to life and liberty.
"Unless they can properly do so, we stand by our firm admonition of these groups to refrain from making a fool of these UNSRs, a mockery of the UN, as well as using their allegations as leverage to secure financial resources from overtrusting funding institutions," he said. Ella Dionisio/DMS