Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s drug war is meant to “save lives.”
This is what the Philippines’ top diplomat told the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) on Tuesday, February 27 as he defended the anti-illegal drugs campaign, which was heavily criticized by human rights groups due to the mounting death toll of suspected drug personalities.
During the High Level Segment of the 37th Session of the UNHRC in Geneva, Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano underscored that the Philippine government launched the drug war “to save lives, to preserve families, to protect communities and stop the country from sliding into a narco state.”
“As a sovereign nation, we deserve respect and even support for our right to life and liberty, our sovereign right to self-determination, to make our people safe and secure from all threats, terrorism, corruption and criminality,” Cayetano added.
The top diplomat also urged the 47-member body to “engage and act and not merely name and shame.”
While re-affirming the government’s readiness and cooperation in submitting itself to investigations, Cayetano called on the UNHRC to not “weaponize” and “politicize” the human rights situation in the Philippines.
“When does the quest for human rights become a human wrong? It is when human rights is politicized and weaponized,” Cayetano said.
Earlier, Icelandic Foreign Affairs Minister Gudlaugur Thór Thórdarson urged the Philippine government to “accept without preconditions or limitations” a visit from UN Special Rapporteur Callamard.
He also asked the Philippine government to “cooperate with the Office of the High Commissioner to receive a mission by independent experts to conduct an assessment of the situation in the country without delay.”
But Cayetano, in response, asked the UN to not send Callamard or any other official who has “already prejudged” the Duterte administration.
“When a UN Special Rapporteur cries out, like the Queen in Alice in Wonderland, ‘First the judgment, then the trial,’ when she culls evidence only for what might support her prejudgment, he or she loses the moral high ground and is stripped of any credibility,” Cayetano stressed.
The top diplomat went on to say, “There are 7.5 billion people in the world; send anyone except one who has already prejudged us, and who, by any measure, cannot be considered independent and, more so, objective.”