PH says seat at U.N. rights body validates drug war

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang on Saturday, October 13, claimed that the country's reelection to the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) is a recognition that the government respects human rights and does not tolerate abuse by those in authority.

Newly-appointed Palace Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a statement that "[g]etting a seat in the UN Human Rights Council is a repudiation of the critics and detractors on President [Rodrigo] Duterte's unrelenting war against illegal drugs."

Panelo claimed the Philippines is at the forefront of the "gigantic fight" in the global war on drugs, and is an example to the world of how to "slay the dragon of destruction." (READ: Drug war will be 'as chilling as the day it began' – Duterte)

"With the county's reelection, the President's campaign against illegal drugs, corruption, and criminality has, in effect, been acknowledged by the international community as essential to the protection of the right to life, liberty, and property of every peace-loving and law-abiding citizen of our State," he added.

Panelo then thanked the UN for the reelection amid sharp criticism from rights groups from Europe, North America, and the United States.

New York-based Human Rights Watch said the seats allocated for the Philippines and other countries with controversial human rights track records like Somalia, Bangladesh, Eritrea, Bahrain, and Cameroon may undermine the council's credibility and effectiveness.

Former US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley earlier said that the vote demonstrates why the US was right to withdraw from the body. (READ: U.N. criticized over latest picks for rights council)

Why composition matters: The UNHRC is an intergovernmental body composed of 47 countries which promote and protect all human rights around the globe. 

It is currently being presided over by a president, a position held by Slovak Ambassador Vojislav Suc.

The council's website indicated that its membership reflects and influences its impacts. The composition also reflects the UN's diversity, "giving it legitimacy when speaking out on human rights violations in all countries."

The UNHRC also aims to prevent oncoming human rights disasters or protracted crises from spreading. The council also has the ability to look into human rights issues, often those that other bodies will not or are unable to discuss. 

Ralf Rivas

A sociologist by heart, a journalist by profession. Ralf is Rappler's business reporter, covering macroeconomy, government finance, companies, and agriculture.