Human Rights Watch slams Cayetano for defending ‘the indefensible’

Jodesz Gavilan
Human Rights Watch slams Cayetano for defending ‘the indefensible’
The global group says the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte is 'delusional' for thinking it can sway other countries from pushing for accountability over drug-related killings

MANILA, Philippines – Human Rights Watch (HRW) on Wednesday, May 10, called Senator Alan Peter Cayetano’s opening statement before United Nations (UN) member countries a “master-class in innovative defense of the indefensible.”

Phelim Kine, the deputy director for Asia of the New York-based international organization, said the Philippine government is “delusional” if it thinks it can sway countries from condemning the extrajudicial killings linked to President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs.

“The Philippine government is delusional if it believes that cynical public exercises of fact-denial by official mouthpieces such as Cayetano can paper over the scale and savagery of Duterte’s drug war,” Kine said. “Instead, the global calls for accountability are likely to only grow louder.”

Cayetano insisted during the dialogue under the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) at the UN headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland on Monday, May 8, that there is no new wave of killings in the Philippines. He blamed critics and local media for “deceiving” the world.

Kine said Cayetano’s defense is merely a “new tactic” of the Duterte administration.

“The Philippine government of President Rodrigo Duterte has a new tactic to deflect mounting foreign criticism of its murderous ‘war on drugs’ that has killed thousands: simply deny those deaths are anything out of the ordinary,” he said. 

Despite Cayetano’s insistence, at least 45 countries expressed concern over the rise of extrajudicial killings under the Duterte administration.

They urged the Philippine government to conduct a thorough and impartial investigation to ensure those behind the killings are held accountable. (READ: Countries call for end to killings in PH drug war)

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 3,603 deaths under investigation. (READ: IN NUMBERS: Philippines’ ‘war on drugs’

The UN member states join local and foreign organizations which have criticized the bloody war on drugs. –

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Jodesz Gavilan

Jodesz Gavilan is a writer and researcher for Rappler and its investigative arm, Newsbreak. She covers human rights and also hosts the weekly podcast Newsbreak: Beyond the Stories. She joined Rappler in 2014 after obtaining her journalism degree from the University of the Philippines.