Look who’s talking
MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines on Friday stressed that there is no culture of impunity in the country in response to the statement of 39 countries expressing concern over drug-related killings in the country. Iceland and 38 other nations called on the Philippine government to welcome a visit by United Nations special rapporteur Agnes Callamard to look into such deaths without conditions or limitations. “We take grave exception to the sweeping and politicized statement delivered by Iceland on behalf of a group of States,” the Philippine Mission to the UN in Geneva said. The Philippine Mission to the UN in Geneva lamented the statement which “tarnishes” the country’s record before the international community. Maria Teresa Almojuela, Philippine Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN, criticized some of the countries that signed the statement. “It is ironic that many of these States joining the statement are the very same States that are the sources of arms, bombs, machines and mercenaries that maim, kill and massacre thousands of people all over the world, not only during their colonial past, but even up to today,” Almojuela said. The countries that signed the joint statement are Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malta, Moldova, Montenegro, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, The Netherlands and Ukraine. “We reiterate, that as a member of the [Human Rights Council], the Philippines is expected to uphold the highest standards in the promotion and protection of human rights and to cooperate fully with the Council,” the statement read. Almojuela ,on the other hand, said that the 39 nations presumed to teach the Philippines about rights without basis and contrary to the objectives of the UN. “These are also the same States that trumpet the right to life, but would at the same time, flaunt their disrespect for the rights of the unborn,” Almojuela said. The Philippines’ Commission on Human Rights is already functioning independently in accordance with the Paris Principles, Almojuela added. “There is no culture of impunity in the Philippines. We have internal mechanisms to investigate all law enforcement operations that lead to deaths,” she added. Evan Garcia, Permanent Representative of the Philippine Mission to the UN in Geneva, said that the 39 nations that signed the statement failed to take into consideration the commitment that Manila made during the adoption of the country’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR). The Philippines only accepted 103 out of 257 recommendations from UN member-states and merely “noted” another 99 in its UPR. Garcia insisted that the Philippines committed to implementing the recommendations of other countries that were only initially noted.
‘PHL open to experts but not Callamard’
Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano, meanwhile, reiterated that the Philippines is open to allow experts from the international community, with the exception of Callamard, to look into the human rights situation in the country. Cayetano said that Callamard had already prejudged the government as guilty of committing human rights violations. “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,” Cayetano said. In his recent bilateral meeting with US State Secretary Rex Tillerson, Cayetano said that the Philippines is welcome to receive independent observers and investigators that would look into the country’s so-called war on drugs. Despite criticism from the international community, the Philippine Mission in Geneva expressed its willingness to continue to engage in constructive dialogue regarding concerns on human rights.Philstar