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Government tells 39 countries: We will never accept dictation

The Philippines “will never accept dictation” on how it should run its domestic affairs, according to the country’s permanent representative to the United Nations. UN Brief Photo, File

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines “will never accept dictation” on how it should run its domestic affairs, according to the country’s permanent representative to the United Nations.

Evan Garcia issued the statement in response to calls from 39 nations that it “cooperate with the international community” in addressing drug-related killings. The 39 also noted a “climate of impunity” under the Duterte administration.

“Let us be clear. There is no culture of impunity in the Philippines,” Garcia said in Geneva.

He said the Philippines “will always be happy to accept the help of foreign friends but we will never accept dictation on how the country manages its internal domestic processes.”

Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella later echoed the diplomat’s position.

Garcia said the countries that signed the statement failed to take into consideration the commitment Manila made during the adoption of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) report on the Philippines last week.

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“It is very regrettable that some still do not grasp the full import of the deadly connections between illegal narcotics and terrorism, and of the threat that narco-politics poses to our national security and the very fabric of our society,” Garcia said.

“Our recent UPR showed the whole world our record in the human rights field. Our accomplishments were well recognized,” he said.

Philippine Deputy Permanent Representative Maria Teresa Almojuela said while the Philippines lacks advanced forensic investigation equipment, it seriously investigates documented allegations of human rights violations.

She said authorities have filed criminal and administrative cases against abusive police officials, including officers allegedly involved in the death of minors, and have even relieved the entire Caloocan City police force to facilitate an unhampered investigation on alleged human rights violations.

She said human rights defenders could also freely and safely exercise their work, including intervening in the sessions of the Human Rights Council. 

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) also hit back at critics, and called on the 39 nations – mostly western countries – to stop “politicizing” the human rights situation in the country.

Biased information

Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano, who is in Washington on an official visit, said the criticism was based on “biased and questionable information.”

He said the countries failed to appreciate Manila’s willingness to work with the international community on human rights. Cayetano attended the UN General Assembly in New York last week.

“It is very unfortunate that instead of engaging us constructively, some western countries would rather criticize and impose conditions as if they can do a better job than the Philippine government in protecting the Filipino people,” he said.

“We have repeatedly expressed our readiness to allow experts from the international community to look into the human rights situation in the country on the condition that they are fair and independent,” the secretary said.

At the UN General Assembly, Cayetano maintained the Duterte administration’s war on illegal drugs does not violate human rights or tolerate abuse by policemen.

“The Philippines’ comprehensive campaign against illegal drugs is a necessary instrument to preserve and protect human rights of all Filipinos. It is never an instrument to violate any individuals’ or groups’ human rights,” he said.

In a press statement, Abella also denied there is “culture of impunity” in the Philippines.

“All these accusations of extrajudicial killings and circumventing police procedures should be proven in a competent court and if found meritorious should result in appropriate sanctions against the perpetrators. Failing these, such claims are mere hearsay,” Abella said.

While it is true that 39 countries have expressed concern over drug-related killings, Abella said the fact remains the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) has unanimously accepted and commended the Outcome Report on the Philippines’ UPR.

The UNHRC is the highest peer review body in the world on all matters of human rights, Malacañang noted.

“Unfortunately, it still appears that some parties refuse to understand certain aspects of our human rights efforts. So let us be clear. There is no culture of impunity in the Philippines,” Abella said.

He also lashed out at the Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development for its unfavorable assessment of the human rights situation in the Philippines.

“It is unfortunate that Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development, in their desire to join the discussions on the matter, would rather look at the glass half-empty than half-full,” he said.

“The state is investigating all credible allegations of human rights violations by all its agents and will continue to do so, consistent with our Constitution and laws, and in compliance with the spirit of our national traditions of liberty and democracy.”

Extrajudicial funding

Meanwhile, Sen. Ralph Recto is pushing for “extrajudicial funding” to strengthen the rule of law in the country.

He said one way to fight crime and keep communities safe is through modernizing courts, including allowing bigger resources for public attorneys and prosecutors.

Recto said manpower and material lack in the judiciary and in the Department of Justice (DOJ) should be addressed “if we want to bolster the rule of law, which is now being threatened by people and institutions tempted to embrace illegal means in seeking justice.”

The senator said the fast disposition of cases would decongest jails and prevent them from turning “into corporate headquarters of crime syndicates and as masters schools for their members.”

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