PHILIPPINE ambassador-designate to the United Nations Teodoro “Teddyboy” Locsin Jr. has called for an end to the wave of killings of drug suspects and the withdrawal of a bill seeking to re-impose the death penalty.
He made the appeals in a series of tweets Tuesday afternoon after what he indicated was a political and economic briefing.
The former journalist and congressman said the series of killings undermines the “sure economic progress” of the next six years, which he credited to the previous Aquino administration that left a substantial amount of funds.
“End the killings. There are US methods of ‘disappearances’ which are more tasteful and do not invite international notice,” Locsin tweeted. “So much progress is in store for us in the next 6 years of Noynoy’s largesse and P3.3-trillion budgets growing by a trillion a year, why spoil it with carnage.”
He also opposed the reinstatement of capital punishment.
“First step, withdraw that barbarous bill re-imposing death penalty because it doesn’t work and it is messy. Death penalty demeans us,” the envoy said.
Locsin was nominated by President Rodrigo Duterte as ambassador to the UN in September. The Commission on Appointments confirmed him last month.
Duterte is proposing the restoration of the death penalty in an attempt to stop the illegal drug trade and combat criminality.
Before going on recess, a House of Representatives committee approved a substitute bill seeking to restore the death penalty, which was scrapped in 2006.
Yasay backs Duterte
On Wednesday, Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. slammed the call of the UN human rights high commissioner to investigate Duterte for his stunning claim that he had personally killed suspected criminals.
The President clearly stated that the killings occurred during law enforcement operations, Yasay said.
Those slain, he added, were hardened criminals who resisted arrest and placed the lives of police operatives and innocent people in jeopardy.
“The high commissioner could not use this alleged admission without verifying the true facts to arrive at an arbitrary and unfounded conclusion that murders were committed,” Yasay said.
Malacañang echoed Yasay and shrugged off the UN official’s call.
“It has been under scrutiny in the past, but it has already been addressed as far as we know,” presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said during a news conference.
Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, the UN high commissioner for human rights, in a statement issued in Geneva on Tuesday said judicial authorities in the Philippines must demonstrate their commitment to the rule of law by launching an investigation on the President.
Al-Hussein said self-professed vigilantism clearly constituted murder, adding that “It should be unthinkable for any functioning judicial system not to launch investigative and judicial proceedings when someone has openly admitted being a killer.”
In a speech last week, Duterte said he used to drive around Davao City as mayor to hunt criminals and kill them, to set an example to the police.
“I used to do it personally. If I can do it, why can’t you?” he said.
Duterte later clarified before the foreign press that he had personally killed “about three” people during his stint as mayor.
The UN official claimed the killings were a violation of international law, including the right to life, freedom from violence and force, due process and fair trial, equal protection before the law, and innocence until proven guilty.
And by encouraging others to follow, al-Hussein added that the Philippine leader may also have committed incitement to violence.
According to the high commissioner’s office, over 6,100 people have reportedly been killed either by police, or by vigilantes and mercenaries apparently acting in response to Duterte’s “war on drugs” since he assumed the presidency on June 30.
Deaths included children as young as five years old, it added.
“Credible and independent investigations must be urgently re-opened into the killings in Davao, as well as into the shocking number of killings that have occurred across the country since Mr. Duterte became president,” al-Hussein said.
“The perpetrators must be brought to justice, sending a strong message that violence, killings and human rights violations will not be tolerated by the State and that no one is above the law.”
Al-Hussein also called on the Philippine government to lift the preconditions, including a public debate, that Duterte had imposed on a planned visit by UN special rapporteur on summary executions Agnes Callamard to investigate the alleged extrajudicial killings of suspected drug dealers.
Lacson raps UN official
Reacting to the UN official’s statements, Sen. Panfilo Lacson on Wednesday said Duterte, as president, enjoys immunity from suit during his entire six-year term.
“Apparently, the UN rights chief is not familiar with the Philippine Constitution and our laws,” Lacson said.
“No matter how many times a person in our country admits having committed murder, as long as there is no other evidence to corroborate his extrajudicial confession, the case cannot stand in any court of law,” the senator pointed out.
“The UN official can shout to high heavens to investigate the president but unfortunately for him, he can’t get past that call,” he added.