• Written by Efren Montano
  • Published in Top Stories
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Featured 'Unnecessary'

THE Philippine government has been probing alleged human rights violations in the country even before 38 member states of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) urged Malacañang to "cooperate" in human rights assessments, a Palace official said yesterday.

The UNHRC member-states on Tuesday signed a joint statement that called on the Philippines "to cooperate with the United Nations system -- including the Human Rights Council and its special procedure mandate holders -- without preconditions or limitations."

"Nasabi ko na sa inyo na may imbentaryo kami nung mga napatay 'di umano sa giyera laban sa droga para malaman namin kung talagang nasunod ba ang tamang proseso o hindi," Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said.

"Ibig sabihin hindi namin kinakailangan ang panawagan ng mga dayuhan, ginagawa na po namin 'yan maski walang ganyang panawagan," he said.

Iceland issued the joint statement on Tuesday in which 38 states expressed concern over the Philippines' spate of drug-related killings and the reported harassment of human rights defenders and journalists.

"We call upon the Philippines to provide and guarantee a safe and secure environment for all, including journalists and Human Rights defenders," the statement said.

But the states said they were encouraged by reports citing the country's "willingness to cooperate with the UN" in the assessment.

Roque, in a statement issued yesterday, said the call was not necessary.

The signatory countries are Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Macedonia, Montenegro, Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, United Kingdom, and the United States.

The joint statement came on Tuesday after the United States, a long-standing ally of the Philippines, announced on the same day its withdrawal from the UNHRC. The U.S. accused the body of bias against its ally Israel and a failure to hold human rights abusers accountable.

On Thursday, Roque said the country is not following suit.

"The President is very careful never to comment on sovereign decisions, in the same way that he does not want other states commenting on domestic sovereign decisions. So we leave it at that," Roque said.

President Rodrigo Duterte previously ordered police to snub the probe into the drug killings, and even slammed UN Special Rapporteur for extrajudicial killings Agnes Callamard and the UNHRC High Commissioner Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein.

As of March 2018, 91,704 anti-drug operations have been carried out in the country since President Rodrigo Duterte rose to power in July 2016, data from the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency showed.

Out of the total 2,467 drug-related homicide incidents recorded, only 715 cases had been solved while 1,752 are still under investigation, data showed.

Government has several times asserted that it has nothing to do with vigilante killings of drug suspects, saying those slain in police operations had resisted arrest.