It is good and it is right that the Philippine government, through Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, has formally asked the United Nations to probe the alleged extrajudicial killings of drug suspects in the country, as well as the deaths of policemen in the country’s war on drugs.
By making the request and by agreeing to conduct an inquiry, the Philippines and the UN can end the acrimony that has characterized this vital relationship ever since the international community took notice of the Philippine drug war.
Both sides need a respite from the harsh words that have been said, and would continue to be said, unless a truce is called.
A fact-finding inquiry is vital, not to determine who is wrong and who is right in this controversy, but to establish facts about the drug war, and thence to decide how the country and the UN can best work together in addressing the drug menace in the country.
With the UN conducting the inquiry, it will have the authority and influence of the international community behind the probe. The world will better know and understand what is really happening here in our country.
With the Philippine authorities fully cooperating with the inquiry, the country will have the opportunity to show the world that it has nothing to hide in the drug war, and that it will fully honor its commitments to the family of nations.
The international probe will also provide us a chance to make the case not only for the drug war, but for the many reforms we are now witnessing under the administration of President Duterte.
Secretary Medialdea sent the formal invitation to UN special rapporteur on summary executions, Agnes Callamard, who earlier condemned this Administration’s war on drugs.
It is right that in its invitation, the Philippine government also urged the UN rapporteur to include in her investigation the killings of law enforcers by drug suspects so that she can obtain an accurate perspective of the drug problem in the country.
What has poisoned the conversation on both ends has been the tendency of many to make blanket statements of the situation, either in criticism of what was happening in the country or in defense of our nation‘s sovereignty.
Lecturing our government on what is the right thing to do is offensive, because the Philippines has fully earned a position of respect and honor in the international community. We will not sit for a lecture on rights from anyone.
On the part of the Philippine government leader, responding to criticism with expletives and insults is counter-productive and self-defeating.
Speaking in defense of the work of the United Nations, Eleanor Roosevelt memorably declared: “Talk can have great value; you have to think of it as a bridge. You have to think of the UN as a place where bridges are built between peoples.”
In the same spirit, the UN inquiry should serve as a bridge – not as a tool for human-rights dogmatism, but as a means for international understanding.