Malacañang on Wednesday maintained that President Rodrigo Duterte respects human rights after a United Nations (UN) commissioner criticized the Chief Executive for his supposed lack of understanding of human rights institutions.
In a statement, Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said Duterte “knows the limits of the power and authority of the presidency.”
“President Duterte is a respecter of human rights, but he has also been firm in saying that human rights cannot be used as an excuse to let the spread of drugs in the country run rampant,” he said.
Abella reiterated that the administration does not sanction extrajudicial killings.
“Notwithstanding the accusations hurled against him, no formal charge of human rights violations has been filed. Alleged EJKs [extrajudicial killings]are not the policy of his administration,” he said.
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said Duterte has a “striking lack of understanding” of its human rights institutions in a rebuke over his crime war that has killed more than 3,000 people.
“The President of the Philippines’s statements of scorn for international human rights law display a striking lack of understanding of our human rights institutions and the principles which keep societies safe,” Zeid said at a speech in Geneva on Tuesday.Duterte, 71, has launched an unprecedented crime war since taking office on June 30, warning the Philippines is in danger of becoming a “narco-state”.
Last month, Duterte announced a “shoot-to-kill” order against drug dealers. “This campaign (of) shoot-to-kill will remain until the last day of my term if I’m still alive by then,” he said.
Zeid said such an order “undermines justice.”
But on Wednesday, Philippine Ambassador to the UN Cecilia Rebong said Duterte never empowered police to shoot to kill anyone.
“What he said was the police have the right to defend themselves when their lives are in danger,” Rebong told the UN Human Rights Council.
But Zeid urged the Philippines to invite a UN human rights expert to investigate the killings.
Philippine Foreign Affairs spokesman Charles Jose was non-committal, saying UN rights experts already “jumped to conclusions.” CATHERINE S. VALENTE, AFP