UN experts show ‘bias’ vs. Duterte gov’t

MANILA – Malacañang on Friday slammed the United Nations’ (UN) human rights experts for insisting that there are various human rights violations committed in the Philippines under the watch of President Rodrigo Duterte. 

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque jabbed at the 31 UN rights experts’ “bias” against the Duterte government when they once again urged the Office of the UN Human Rights Council to conduct a probe into the supposed human rights violations in the Philippines.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque. (File photo)

In a virtual press conference, Roque said the UN experts have no right to interfere in the country’s domestic affairs because it has a “working” justice system.

Hindi po kinakailangang manghimasok ang mga dayuhan dahil mayroon po kaming mga batas dito sa Pilipinas (Foreign entities need not intervene because we have laws in the Philippines),” he said.

Some 31 experts from the UN stressed the need for the rights council to carry out an “on-the-ground independent, impartial” investigation into the human rights situation in the Philippines.

Human rights experts of the UN made the call as they claimed “widespread and systematic killings and arbitrary detention in the context of the war on drugs, killings and abuses targeting farmers and indigenous peoples, (and) the silencing of independent critics and the opposition” in the Philippines under Duterte’s leadership.

They also took note of the “staggering cost of the relentless and systematic assault on the most basic rights of Filipinos at the hands of the government.”

“The human rights situation in the Philippines has now reached a level of gravity by requiring a robust intervention by the UN. The Human Rights Council must do everything in its power to prevent the continuation of widespread and systematic rights abuses against the Philippines’ people,” the experts said.

The UN experts also urged the Duterte government to “demonstrate real and credible progress.”

Among the UN experts who made the call were special rapporteurs Agnes Callamard (extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions), Diego Garcia-Sayan (independence of judges and lawyers), and David Kaye (promotion and protection of the right to freedom of expression).

Respect PH legal system 

“We maintain that the Philippines has continuously discharged its obligations to punish violations of human rights. We have legislation and mechanisms against torture and enforced disappearances, laws to enforce international humanitarian law, and penal laws that have been crafted to protect and promote human rights as enshrined in our Constitution,” he said.

In a press statement, Roque said the UN experts’ conclusions confirm their “lack of impartiality that has unfortunately tainted the human rights mechanisms of the United Nations when it comes to the Duterte administration.”

Roque also reiterated that the country has a “working and independent” judiciary that deals with human rights violators, “regardless of who they may be.”

He said the UN rights experts should instead respect the Philippines’ legal system. 

“As we said in our response to the Office of the High Commissioner’s report, issued in early June, our courts stand ready to receive and rule on any complaints. We call on the special rapporteurs to respect our legal system and the Philippines as a sovereign state,” Roque said. (PNA)

By Ruth Abbey Gita-Carlos, Philippine News Agency