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Duterte: UNHRC resolution 'crazy'

July 12, 2019 - Friday 11:07 AM by Jon Joaquin, Agence France Presse

FOR REVIEW. President Rodrigo Duterte listens to Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea on the sidelines of the GOCC Day in Malacañan on July 11, 2019. Duterte said the United Nations Human Rights Council may state its purpose in coming to the Philippines for his review. TOTO LOZANO/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday called a UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) resolution calling for a comprehensive international review of the drug war in the Philippines “crazy” but said he may consider allowing UNHRC staff into the country.

"Let them state their purpose and I will review it,” the President said shortly before the resolution was approved on July 11, 2019 by 18 states in the 47-member council, with 14 nations voting against and 15 abstentions.

Activists said they had initially hoped the UN would demand a formal “inquiry," but compromised on calling for a "report" to win a majority. 

It gives UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet a year to prepare a "comprehensive written report on the situation of human rights in the Philippines."

Bachelet's spokeswoman, Ravina Shamdasani, said the report would offer an opportunity to "get clarity around the contested facts, figures and circumstances" of the drug war. 

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. immediately dismissed the resolution, saying the Philippines "will not accept a politically partisan and one-sided resolution, so detached from the truth on the ground.”

"The Philippines rejects this resolution," Locsin said in a statement, warning “there will be consequences.”

Presidential Spokesperson and Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo reiterated Duterte’s stand, saying the President “will be reviewing the intent of the proposed investigation and will decide thereafter on whether to permit the same to proceed or not.”

“Should it proceed impartially, we are certain that its result will only lead to the humiliation of the investigators, as well as of Iceland and the 17 other nations supporting it, since there never have been -- nor will there ever be -- state-sponsored killings in this part of the world,” Panelo said in a statement released on Friday morning.

'Crucial step'

The deputy Geneva director for Human Rights Watch, Leila Matar, described the resolution as "a modest but vital" step that "signals the start of accountability for thousands of 'drug war'-related killings."

Amnesty International hailed Thursday's vote as "crucial."

It "provides hope for thousands of bereaved families in the Philippines, and countless more Filipinos bravely challenging the Duterte administration's murderous 'war on drugs,'" Amnesty's regional director for East and Southeast Asia, Nicholas Bequelin, said in a statement. 

In addition to calling for a report by Bachelet, the resolution raises concerns over other alleged abuses under Duterte, including "killings, enforced disappearances, arbitrary arrest and detention."

Misinformed

But in his statement, Locsin said the resolution "does not represent the will of the Council, much less that of the developing countries who are always the target of such resolutions.”

"Western countries pushed for this resolution in the confidence that the world has forgotten what they did and what should have been done to them had there been a Human Rights Council. It was pushed with the arrogance that developing countries must not stand up to them even if we can and as we hereby do. There will be consequences,” he said.

Panelo, for his part, questioned the propriety of the resolution as well as its validity, saying it was not unanimously adopted and did not get even a simple majority of the 47 countries.

“The voting is not decisive in its favor. Only 18 countries out of the 47 member-countries voted for the resolution. A simple majority would have been 24. This means that majority of the members are not really convinced of the resolution calling for the investigation of the so-called extra-judicial killings in our country,” Panelo said.

He said the 17 countries that signed the resolution “certainly have been misled by Iceland, which in turn was led astray by the continuing and relentless false news, published by a few biased media in the country and elsewhere.”

Panelo said the resolution was also “offensive and insulting to the sensibilities of the 81 percent of the Filipino people who expressed satisfaction on the kind of forceful and effective governance that PRRD (President Duterte’s initials) has given them.” With a report from Agence France-Presse

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