Saying that the Duterte administration has “nothing to hide,” Malacañang on Saturday said rapporteurs from the United Nations (UN) are welcome to investigate the spate of extrajudicial killings of drug suspects amid the government’s intensified war on drugs.
Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said that while there is no formal invitation to the UN to send special rapporteurs, they are welcome to visit the country and look into the alleged killings.
“[This is] a clear manifestation that this administration has nothing to hide before the international community,” Andanar said in a statement.
On Thursday, President Rodrigo Duterte invited UN and European Union officials to conduct a probe into the killings of suspected drug users and pushers.
The president however said they should also engage him in a debate during their visit.
“I will write them a letter to invite them for an investigation… But in keeping with the time-honored principle of the right to be heard, after they interpellate me, I would then interpellate them. I will ask them one by one in an open forum,” Duterte said.
Andanar said the government will welcome UN observers and will listen to what they have to say but “they
should also listen to what we have to say, both in the spirit of mutual respect and out of genuine recognition of our status as a sovereign nation.”
He also explained the importance of the drug war, pointing out that the narcotics trade could lead to a series of problems in the future.
“The all-out war against illegal drugs being waged by law enforcement (agencies) is a war for national survival.
The drug menace has permeated the length and breadth of the country, threatening to destroy the very fabric of our society,” Andanar said.
“We know that widespread drug use not only leads to other crimes, it can also turn the country into a narco state where lawlessness prevails and can set back our efforts at achieving inclusive economic growth,” he added.
The Philippine National Police has reported that more than 3,000 drug suspects have been killed by police in operations and unknown vigilante groups since Duterte took office on June 30.
The President himself has said that those brutally killed and found with signs indicating that they were drug dealers could have been slain by rivals to make it appear that they were victims of summary executions by state forces.
Meanwhile, a militant human rights watchdog also on Saturday welcomed Duterte’s recent statements against the United States and its military stationed in the country, saying that they are responsible for various atrocities in Mindanao and in several regions abroad.
Karapatan in a statement said Duterte’s call for US troops to leave Mindanao is backed by records of human rights violations that they committed.
The human rights watchdog cited the report of the Department of National Defense that there are 107 US military personnel in Mindanao conducting various surveillance and drone operations.
“They include 50 US Marines, 17 US army, 20 US Special Forces, plus US Navy and civilian personnel,” said Cristina Palabay, secretary general of Karapatan.
Palabay added that the US government’s avowed concern for the human rights situation in the country amid the Duterte administration’s war on drugs is hypocritical.
“[The US government] has an undeniable record of perpetrating and instigating the worst forms of human and people’s rights violations in the country and the world over,” she said.
Karapatan urged Duterte to take concrete steps to end US intervention in the Philippines by abrogating existing agreements with the US government.
Among these agreements are the US-RP Mutual Defense Treaty, US-RP Visiting Forces Agreement, US-PH Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement, and all agreements legitimizing US presence and intervention in the Philippines.
Karapatan also urged the President to address the spate of extrajudicial killings of drug suspects.
“He (President Duterte) should call for a stop to the killings, prosecute and hold accountable perpetrators of the extrajudicial killings, including those from the police,” Palabay said.
Karapatan, meanwhile, expressed alarm over the move of the President to enlist the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in the anti-drugs campaign.
Palabay said the use of the military and other mercenaries in so-called wars against drugs is a concept that was peddled by the US government in countries such as Mexico and Colombia.
“It is a form of military intervention which justifies American military and financial support for governments to maintain and protect US political and economic influence. It has been proven that US-funded drug wars have not eliminated the drug menace, but have targeted the civilian population in countries struggling for change,” Palabay said.