Countries call for end to killings in PH drug war
MANILA, Philippines – Despite Senator Alan Peter Cayetano insisting that there is no new wave of killings, United Nations member states still called on the Philippine government to conduct a "thorough" investigation into extrajudicial killings in the country.
This was what at least 45 countries recommended to the Philippine delegation during the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) in Geneva, Switzerland on Monday, May 8.
They also urged Philippine authorities to ensure that those behind the killings – either in police operations or through summary executions – are held accountable.
The UN countries which expressed concern over the spate of killings and called for a human rights-based approach to President Rodrigo Duterte's bloody war on drugs include the following:
- Czech Republic
- Holy See
- Sierra Leone
- Sri Lanka
- Timor Leste
- United Kingdom
- United States
The UN member states join the roster of international and local human rights organizations which have denounced the Duterte administration's anti-drug campaign.
But in Cayetano's opening statement, he slammed critics – including local and foreign media – for peddling "alternative facts" surrounding the bloody war on drugs.
As of April 23 this year, 2,717 suspected drug personalities have been killed in legitimate police operations since the start of the Duterte administration, according to data from the Philippine National Police (PNP). There are also 3,603 deaths under investigation. (READ: IN NUMBERS: Philippines' 'war on drugs')
'See for yourself'
Ireland, Hungary, France, and Lithuania, meanwhile, urged the Philippine government to invite "without set conditions" Special Rapporteur Agnes Callamard.
The Office of the President previously invited Callamard to investigate the killings. However, the invitation came with conditions such as Duterte being allowed "to propound his own questions."
The Special Rapporteur was recently in the Philippines to attend a two-day conference on drug policy. She said she is waiting for the government to lift its conditions so she can undertake an official visit and look into the killings.
Cayetano has insisted that there are no state-sponsored killings in the Philippines.
"Killings are not happening because of the campaign [against] illegal drugs. Killings grew because of illegal drugs," he said. "We ask for your understanding and we invite you to see for yourself what is happening."
China offered support for the Philippines, declaring drugs "the public enemy of mankind."
The UN rights council is set to release a full report with recommendations by Friday, May 12. – with reports from Agence France-Presse / Rappler.com