Campaign vs crime, drugs 'protects human rights of Filipinos' – Cayetano

MANILA, Philippines – Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano emphasized on Saturday, April 21, that President Rodrigo Duterte's campaign against crime and illegal drugs protects the human rights of Filipinos.

Reacting to the US State Department's latest human rights report  on the Philippines, Cayetano emphasized in a statement that the government's campaign against criminality and the illegal drug trade "seeks to promote the welfare and [protects] the human rights of all Filipinos — to save lives, to preserve families, to protect communities and stop the country from sliding into a narco-state."

While noting that the United States and other entities such as the European Parliament have their own reporting mechanisms, Cayetano said the Philippines "has its own internal processes and mechanisms to ensure that the human rights of all our people are protected and respected."

"We do not need others who think they know better than us Filipinos to tell us what to do," Cayetano said.

He added: "As a sovereign nation, the Philippines deserves the same kind of respect we have been extending to our friends in the international community."

The US State Department's latest report released on Friday, April 20 noted that extrajudicial killings (EJKs) continued to be the chief human rights concern in the country amid Duterte's "drug war."

Meanwhile, the European Parliament recently adopted a resolution calling on the Duterte administration to end EJKs in its "war on drugs." It also called for the release of detained Senator Leila de Lima, and the removal of human rights activists from the Philippines' list of persons tagged as terrorists.

Cayetano on Saturday assured the international community that the government "will remain guided by the rule of law embodied in our Constitution, which also enshrines the country's long-standing tradition of upholding human rights."

The Philippines' "drug war" began in 2016, shortly after Duterte assumed office. But police began crackdowns on suspected illegal drug users and pushers in communities even before Duterte was officially president.

According to government authorities, the "drug war" has claimed more than 4,000 lives since July 1, 2016. Human rights groups, however, have pegged it at more than 12,000. – Michael Bueza/