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Human rights, security go together, Cayetano tells UN

MANILA, Philippines – Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano told the United Nations General Assembly in New York that the Philippines will uphold human rights alongside ensuring Filipinos' security from the threat posed by illegal drugs and crime.

"The Philippines integrates the human rights agenda in its development initiatives for the purpose of protecting everyone, especially the most vulnerable, from lawlessness, violence, and anarchy," said Cayetano during the High-Level Debate of the UN General Assembly, as quoted by a press release from the Department of Foreign Affairs released Sunday, September 24.

He said that "security and human rights are not incompatible." "Without security, the most basic human rights, to life and safety, are constantly under attack – from terrorism, criminality, drug and human trafficking," he said in his speech on Saturday, September 23.

The Philippines' top diplomat said that the Duterte administration's war on drugs is to "save lives, preserve families, protect communities and stop the country from sliding into a narco-state," according to the DFA press release.

"The very principle of the responsibility to protect must encompass first and foremost the vast majority of peaceful law-abiding people who must be protected from those who are not," Cayetano was quoted as saying. (READ: Cayetano calls Duterte drug war 'rule of law campaign')

He also reiterated the Philippines' commitment to its human rights obligations as stated in international treaties it signed, the DFA press release said.

He also appealed to other countries to "respect Philippine sovereignty" and cautioned about what he called as "misinformation" about the war on drugs.

"Accusation before investigation is not proof. Nor is it fair. Abuses have occurred and mistakes have been made, tragic ones for sure... While one abuse is one too many, still the abuses are far less than the imaginary numbers of partisan accusers and publicity seekers," he said.

"We should never tolerate human rights abuses but neither should we tolerate misinformation, fake news on and politicization of human rights, for these undermine our collective efforts as the United Nations to uphold the universality of human rights and dignity of human life," Cayetano added.

Cayetano's speech at the UN General Assembly comes as the country is getting heavy criticism over the deadly war on drugs under the Duterte administration.

It also comes after the Philippines rejected calls by UN member-states to conduct a thorough probe into extrajudicial killings, part of the UN Human Rights Council's Third Universal Periodic Review Report. – Rappler.com