MALACAÑANG on Tuesday said it was open to a United Nations (UN) probe into alleged extrajudicial killings (EJKs) in the country even as it insists that other nations have “misunderstood” the Philippine government’s war on drugs.
In a news conference, presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said countries were free to express criticisms, but the Duterte administration “will continue to pursue [it’s] own line of action.”
“We are not attempting to change anybody’s minds about these things. We’re just simply pursuing our own direction regarding the dismantling of the illegal drug apparatus,” Abella told reporters.
Abella issued the statement after UN member-states called on the Philippine government to conduct a thorough investigation into extrajudicial killings in the country.
At least 45 countries made the recommendation to the Philippine delegation during the Universal Periodic Review of the country’s human rights record in Geneva, Switzerland on Monday.
Abella blamed “media hype and noise” for the Philippines’ tarnished reputation before the international community as a result of the administration’s controversial drug war.
In the same news conference, Chief Public Attorney Persida Acosta insisted that the alleged extrajudicial killings were not state-sponsored.
She cited four cases in which policemen were held accountable: the slay cases of Albuera Mayor Rolando Espinosa, motorcyclist John de la Riarte and cyclist Mark Vincent Garalde; and two drug suspects who were killed inside a police station in Pasay City.
“How could they say there were state-sponsored extrajudicial killings? There’s none. Sadyang kinakailangang tapusin ang kamandag ng droga sa ating bayan [There’s really a need to end the poison inflicted by drugs on our nation],” Acosta added.
EU probers due
A high-level European human rights delegation will visit Manila in two weeks, European Union (EU) envoy to the Philippines Franz Jessen said on Tuesday.
“The EU gives so much value to the human rights and the group’s main purpose is to find out if indeed the allegations are true,” he told reporters in Makati City.
Jessen said the Philippines must comply with 27 UN human rights conventions it had signed.
In February, the EU sent a delegation to check on the human rights situation but did not announce its findings. However, the EU Parliament in March issued a resolution urging President Duterte to stop the “war on drugs” and extrajudicial killings.
Duterte, in reaction, lambasted the EU Parliament, saying it had no right to intrude into the affairs of an independent state.
The EU then threatened to remove the Philippines from its Generalized Scheme of Preferences (GSP+) trade incentives that grants duty-free entry to 2,700 products from the Philippines.
“We are not jumping into conclusion. We are looking into the justice program and we are trying to develop good communication with the Philippine National Police like appropriate follow-up and investigation,” Jessen said.
He said the forthcoming visit would be a normal and friendly dialogue. The EU delegation will also check on labor conditions.
“Progress is attainable in countries that give premium to human rights,” Jessen said.
with JAIME R. PILAPIL