DESPITE being criticized by local and international rights groups, the Philippine government insisted that the campaign against illegal drugs was necessary to preserve and protect the rights of all Filipinos.
Foreign affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano reiterated this during the high-level debate at the 72nd Session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York as he called on other nations critical of the Philippines’ war on drugs to respect the country’s sovereignty.
“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, who represented President Rodrigo in the annual diplomatic event.
The foreign affairs secretary, in defending the campaign against illegal drugs, told the international assembly that the Philippines would continue to uphold human rights in carrying out its responsibility to protect its citizens from the threat posed by illegal drugs, criminality and terrorism.
“Security and human rights are not incompatible. Indeed, the first is our duty to the other,” Cayetano said. “Without security, the most basic human rights, to life and safety, are constantly under attack―from terrorism, criminality, drug and human trafficking.”
He also noted that the reason Duterte launched his campaign against the illegal drugs was to save lives, preserve families, protect communities and stop the country from sliding into a narco-state.
The top diplomat of the Philippines also pointed out the duty of the state to protect human life, human dignity, and human rights from aggression by other states, terrorism from non-state actors, and the destruction of societies and families from criminal networks trafficking in drugs, people and arms.
“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,” the foreign affairs secretary added.
Cayetano’s statement came a day after UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva unanimously adopted the Third Universal Periodic Review Report of the Philippines.
While some speakers in the UNHRC urged the Philippines to comply with international standards in combatting the use of drugs, they praised the country for the implementation of measures aimed at combating poverty, and promoting the right to education and the rights of vulnerable groups and for acceding to important international conventions. JEFFERSON ANTIPORDA