Philippines, not U.N., should probe drug war – Lacson

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Panfilo Lacson said the Philippines, not the United Nations, should prepare a comprehensive report into the rising number of killings in the government's anti-illegal drug campaign.

After the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) adopted a resolution to look into drug war killings in the Philippines, Lacson said the "best thing" the country can do is to conduct a probe and complete its own report to protect "national dignity." (READ: Philippines threatens U.N. countries hitting drug war)

"We can manage on our own," said Lacson, a former police chief, in a radio interview with DZBB on Sunday, July 14. 

He added, "Pero para payagan nating mag-imbestiga sila rito, parang sampal naman sa atin ito. Para tayong batang paslit na hindi alam ang ginagawa." (But for us to allow them to investigate here, that's like a slap on the face. It's like we're kids who don't know what we're doing.)

What kind of report? Lacson said the report completed by the Philippines should be "based on facts" available on record. It should also include actions taken and "corrective measures" done by authorities.

Lacson said as an example that the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) can look into the killings. Crucial records documenting killings and policies of the drug war, though, have been withheld by authorities from government agencies like the CHR.

Solicitor General Jose Calida tried to block the release of drug war documents by arguing that its release will put national security at risk. The Supreme Court has since ordered the Solicitor General to release the records.

Lacson said if the UN was not satisfied with whatever report was submitted, they can complete their own report on the matter, as supported by European countries and other parties.

Lacson said while he respected the "democratic vote" of countries that supported the Iceland-led resolution for the UN to review the drug war killings, any investigation should state its purpose.

"Kasi mukhang ang kasunod noon kung 'di sila satisfied ay magsasagawa sila ng investigation nila, 'yan naman ang hindi karapat-dapat. At dapat nating alalahanin na meron tayong national dignity na mas mahalaga sa atin more than anything else," he said.

(What looks like will come next if they are not satisfied with our report might be their own investigation, which is not allowed. We should remember we have our national dignity, which is more important than anything else.)

Lacson likewise said the different branches of the Philippine government in its "heart of hearts" was addressing the killings, but it needs the cooperation of the Philippine National Police, the National Bureau of Investigation, and law enforcement agencies.

Since the start of the Duterte administration's drug war, police have recorded over 5,000 killings though rights groups estimate over 27,000 lives lost, which included vigilante-style killings. – Rappler.com

Sofia Tomacruz

Sofia Tomacruz covers foreign affairs and is the lead reporter on the coronavirus pandemic. She also writes stories on the treatment of women and children. Follow her on Twitter via @sofiatomacruz. Email her at sofia.tomacruz@rappler.com.

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