The Philippine government has rejected a resolution by the United Nations Human Rights Council to investigate thousands of killings under the government’s crackdown against illegal drugs over the past three years.
Philippines ambassador Evan Garcia, speaking after the vote, read a statement by his foreign ministry rejecting the resolution as “politically-partisan and one-sided”.
In the statement, Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr warned of “far-reaching” consequences for countries that supported what he described as an insult to the Philippines.
He vowed that the government’s commitment to protect the public against crime will not weaken following the resolution.
“Do not presume to threaten states with accountability for a tough approach to crushing crime, at which some of your countries are complicit at worst and tolerant at best,” he said in the statement. “You don’t have the wherewithal, so all you can do is insult.”
“Thus, the Philippines rejects this resolution,” he added. “It cannot, in good conscience, abide by it. We will not accept a politically partisan and one-sided resolution, so detached from the truth on the ground.”
During its 41st session in Geneva, 18 of the 47 member states of the council voted in favour of the resolution filed by Iceland, which formally asked UN rights chief Michelle Bachelet to come up with a comprehensive report on the situation in the Philippines.
The resolution also urged the Philippine government to co-operate with the UN by facilitating country visits and “refraining from all acts of intimidation or retaliation”.
Fourteen countries opposed the resolution and 15 abstained.
Locsin redefined Philippine foreign policy after the vote: “Our foreign policy was summed up as being ‘Friend to all, enemy to none.’
“In the face of today’s changing realities, I refined this to ‘Friend to friends, enemy to enemies, and a worse enemy to false friends’.”
“We renew our solidarity with our true friends who have stood by us in this farce,” he added. “But we will not tolerate any form of disrespect or acts of bad faith. There will be consequences: far-reaching ones.”
Since 2016, at least 6,600 suspected drug pushers and addicts have been killed in police operations under the government’s aggressive campaign against illegal drugs in the Philippines, according to official statistics.
Human rights groups have alleged that many of those killed in the anti-illegal drugs campaign were summarily executed by police, who often claim that the victims fought during arrests.
Some children have also been killed in the crossfire or in mistaken-identity shootings.
Locsin said the government’s campaign will not waiver despite the criticisms, noting: “The Philippines renews its solemn responsibility to protect the law-abiding against the lawless by any means efficient to achieve the defining purpose for the existence and expense of a state.”
“To that responsibility, my president has made an … unwavering and total commitment, and it will not be weakened by this ill-fated resolution,” he added.
Laila Matar of Human Rights Watch criticised his comments.
“It was quite clear that they threatened consequences for those who had supported the resolution, which in turn makes us concerned for the many human rights defenders, civil society activists and journalists on the ground,” she said.
Earlier in the week, Amnesty International released a report denouncing the illegal drugs crackdown in the Philippines as a “large-scale murdering enterprise” victimising mostly poor people that should be investigated by the UN.
“This is not just a step towards paying justice for the thousands of families of victims of extrajudicial killings in the Philippines, but it is also a message that we collectively send out to those who have praised President (Rodrigo) Duterte,” said Ellecer “Budit” Carlos of the Manila-based rights group iDefend.
“This war on drugs, as we have repeatedly said, it’s a sham war,” he told a news briefing yesterday in Geneva.
Activists say thousands are being killed as police terrorise poor communities, using cursory drug “watch lists” to identify suspected users or dealers, and executing many of them under the guise of sting operations.
Myca Ulpina, aged three, killed on June 29 near Manila, was among the latest known victims of the crackdown.
Police say her father Renato had used her as a human shield.
Duterte, asked by reporters in Manila whether he would allow access to UN officials to investigate, said: “Let them state their purpose and I will review it.”