Representatives of the Philippine government have placed an invitation before the highest leadership of the United Nations for it to conduct an objective and fair investigation of the human rights situation in the country.
This, to us, is a fitting and forthright reply to the publicity-minded statement of 38 countries, led by Iceland, calling on our government to end the drug-related killings.
This is better than a press statement, because it challenges the UN to act and deal with the facts of what is really happening in the war on drugs, and the true extent of the drug problem in the country today.
As a Philippine media organization, we in The Manila Times, are eager for this initiative to be pursued, because we remember how our government has repeatedly asked the UN and international critics to come and investigate for themselves, instead of relying solely on the self-serving propaganda of international human rights groups. We remember how some of our colleagues in the international media have been content to editorialize from a distance.
We want to know from the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) what is its response to the invitation of President Duterte for the council to establish an office in the Philippines so that it can directly monitor the situation, and even embed its staff in the anti-drug operations of the Philippine National Police (PNP).
We, likewise, would like to know what is the factual basis for the harshly worded statement of the 38 countries regarding the human rights situation in the country. We want to see its rationale ranged against the facts. We want to see whether these countries know anything at all about our country’s criminal justice system and what is being done to stop police abuses in the drug war and prosecute human rights violators.
The Manila Times takes a strong position on this question, because we have repeatedly denounced crimes against human rights and called for the toughest sanctions against offenders. And we have monitored the actions of our police and justice system in the implementation of the drug war.
We are concerned that the UN is being enticed to join in a heavy-handed campaign of shaming the Philippines. We are not convinced that the 38 signatories of the statement have done the requisite study of the Philippine situation before signing off on this initiative.
There are some among us who contend that this latest attack is the product of the incessant pleading of human rights groups for the shaming of the Philippine government and the depiction of a difficult situation into something worse.
If the UN and Philippine critics are serious, we join President Duterte in telling them, ‘Come to the Philippines, investigate for yourselves. Discuss the issues with our government people who are actively engaged in formulating the policies and manning the frontlines of the drug war.
Talking merely with the representatives of international human rights organizations will not contribute to the resolution of the problem, because all they appear interested in is creating a situation that sets up the Philippines for international censure and disapproval.
Let’s get serious. Media publicity and preaching is not the solution to our serious drug problem. A serious and impartial UN investigation will do better.