FOREIGN Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. on Monday said the Philippines will not leave the United Nations, a day after President Rodrigo Duterte threatened to pull the country out of the international body over criticisms of his anti-illegal drug campaign.
But Yasay hit back at two UN special rapporteurs for supposedly relying on unverified reports, when they issued a press statement claiming the President and other “state actors” could be held liable for summary killings and creating an environment of impunity.
“We are certainly not leaving the UN,” Yasay told reporters in a news briefing.
He said withdrawing the country’s UN membership won’t be easy.
“We are committed to the UN despite our numerous frustrations and disappointments with this international
agency,” he said. “The statement of the President is a statement expressing profound disappointment and frustration and it is not any statement that should indicate a threat to leave the United Nations.”
Palace spokesman Ernesto Abella said the President was merely expressing his sentiment last Sunday in Davao City.
“He (Duterte) was simply stating the fact that the Philippines is a sovereign nation and should not be meddled with,” he said.
Duterte was angered, said Yasay, over the call of two UN special rapporteurs on the Philippine government to stop the wave of killings of people linked to illegal drugs.
As of Monday, 712 illegal drug suspects have been killed in legitimate police operations since July 1, on top of more than 1,000 people slain by unknown assailants.
“We call on the Philippines authorities to adopt with immediate effect the necessary measures to protect all persons from targeted killings and extrajudicial executions,” said UN Special Rapporteur on summary executions Agnes Callamard.
Yasay said the comments of Callamard, as well as of UN Special Rapporteur on the right to health Dainius Pūras, were “highly irresponsible,” as they acted on the basis of unverified media reports.
“[They are] making assumptions that these [reports]are true and accurate,” Yasay said. “These rapporteurs are mandated to make proper inquiries and there are protocols to conduct such probes.”
Yasay claimed the rapporteurs were not acting in accordance with existing procedures in engaging and cooperating with UN member-states, which is to verify and investigate the reports.
“They cannot, at this point, on the basis of these media reports, jump into an arbitrary conclusion that we have violated the human rights of people. What is their basis?” he said.
“There is a protocol that must be observed. Common sense would dictate that they cannot do what they just did. And this is precisely the reason why the President has been so disappointed and frustrated at this,” he added.
Rapporteurs not welcome
Yasay said the Philippines won’t approve any request from the rapporteurs to go the country and investigate, pointing out that they had already jumped to conclusions. “It doesn’t make sense,” he said.
Lauro Baja, former Philippine permanent representative to the UN, warned that the Philippines would face the “risk of global isolation” if it exited from the organization.
The UN is “a convenient tool box for every nation to go to in case of global, regional or even national concerns,” he said in a television interview.
“Our participation in the peacekeeping operations may be suspended or stopped, and our participation in various projects of the United Nations may be affected,” he added.
“The UN organization is not only composed of the general assembly and the Security Council. There are various specialized agencies and bodies to which the Philippines runs to for aid, for grants, for help and other activities. And I expect and hope the President realizes this,” the retired diplomat explained.