Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. maintained that the Philippines will “not hesitate to destroy criminals” despite criticisms against President Rodrigo Duterte’s controversial war against illegal drugs.
During the 34th Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva, Switzerland, Yasay pointed out that the widespread magnitude of the drug problem in the country must be “swiftly and effectively dealt with,” or it will “inexorably lead the Philippines to becoming a narco state.”
“There can be no middle ground for the well-being of our people. We will not be kind,” Yasay remarked. “We will not hesitate to destroy criminals who seek the wholesale destruction of our society.”
In his speech on Monday, February 27, Yasay emphasized that drug lords and their syndicates in the Philippines are not only “destroying our young men and women” but are also “violently breaking our families apart and wreaking havoc upon our communities.”
Since Duterte took office last July, more than 7,000 people have been reportedly killed after the government launched its attack against illegal drugs.
Different local and international human rights groups, including the UN, have expressed their concerns over the alleged spate killings, warning the Philippine government of possible human rights violations.
Last year, UN Special Rapporteur on summary executions Agnes Callamard described Duterte’s directives on the drug war as “irresponsible in the extreme and amount to incitement to violence and killing, a crime under international law.”
Yasay, on Monday, lamented how international observers are “more focused on the so-called human rights of criminals” but “have done nothing to help in eliminating the drug problem that has grown to pandemic proportions.”
“When the drug menace results in maiming or killing our people, and destroying the nation, it is the ultimate in violating our human rights,” Yasay stressed.
He said that the lives of the Filipino youth “have been ruined and their future compromised by these drug merchants of death and their collaborators and accomplices.”
“This is the right thing to do and we will do so with toughness and without ambivalence or equivocation,” he added.
Yasay also affirmed that the Duterte administration adheres to “due process and strict observance of the rule of law and to the country’s obligations under existing human rights treaties.”
“As a matter of practice, all law enforcers are held to abide by established procedures. Human rights enforcers ensure that operational protocols are aligned with the law and existing international practices, which are to be strictly followed,” he emphasized.
The foreign secretary then called on its critics to allow the Phillippines to deal with its own domestic challenges in order to achieve its “national goals without undue interference.”
“Like any other country, we want safe communities that will develop and nurture our people — especially our young — into becoming citizens, who are fully abloom with their potentials,” Yasay added.