Calls to probe PH drug campaign should be ignored – Sotto

Published June 9, 2019, 4:24 PM

by Gabriela Baron & Minka Klaudia Tiangco

By Hannah Torregoza and Roy Mabasa

Senate President Vicente Sotto III on Sunday said government should just ignore the call of human rights experts to let the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) investigate the Duterte administration’s war on drugs.

Sen. Vicente Sotto III (Senate of the Philippines / MANILA BULLETIN)
Sen. Vicente Sotto III
(Senate of the Philippines / MANILA BULLETIN)

Sotto said the request of the 11 human rights experts to investigate the drug war in the Philippines is confusing, pointing out that there are “worse” killings in other countries that deserve their attention.

“Hindi ko maintindihan, gusto ko nang mambintang itong Human Rights Council kasi ang daming ganyan sa ibang bansa pero mainit sila sa isyu ng illegal drugs parang gusto ko nang magsuspetsa na may kinalaman sila sa illegal drugs o user sila. Ang daming patayan sa ibang bansa bakit ito ang pinangiinitan (I don’t understand. I suspect this Human Rights Council is either involved in illegal drugs or drug users themselves. There are worse killings in other countries, but they are so interested in our drug war),” Sotto said over DZBB.

The call, he said for an international inquiry is undermining the country’s domestic laws.

“(I suggest) huwag na pansinin, nag-iingay lang yun…Anong karapatan nila mag imbestiga sa atin, eh meron tayong sariling batas.. Huwag na lang pansinin yun, wala yun mga KSP (kulang sa pansin) yun (I suggest that the call to probe the Philippine illegal drugs campaign should be ignored. What right to they have to investigate when we have our own justice system),” he pointed out.

Sotto said while the anti-illegal drug operation of the Duterte administration is lacking, it is something that the previous administration failed to address in six years that they were in power.

“Maaring may kakulangan ngayon ang gobyerno. Mahina tayo sa demand reduction strategy in illegal drugs,” he pointed out.

He said those who are opposed to the President’s policy should just wait for the Duterte administration to end.

“Maghintay na lang sila, at maglagay ng malakas na kandidato,(They should just wait, and find a strong opposition candidate)” he said.

“Kaya maraming nahuhuli ngayon, kasi hindi hinuhuli dati. Huwag nilang ikaila anim na taon, nakaupo ang administrasyon noon, tuwing SONA (State of the Nation Address) nalulungkot ako hindi binabanggit ang tungkol sa droga (The reason why there are so many drug users arrested today is because the previous administration did not make arrests during their time. They can’t deny that in the past six years, the previous administration failed to address the drug problem. I’m sad that it was not even mentioned during the SONA),” he said.

Same old call, same old suspects

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. on Sunday belittled the call of several international human rights experts for the United Nations to establish an independent investigation on the seriousness of human rights situation in the Philippines.

“And it is the same old call from the same old suspects. Next. And please bring it on,” Locsin said in a tweet.

The HRC body is made up of 47 UN Member States elected by the UN General Assembly.

Locsin’s comment came a day after the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) rejected the call of the UN special rapporteurs, saying that the Philippines is a democratic nation with strong institutions and the government has an unshakeable determination to promote and protect the human rights of every Filipino.

“We reject this call as it is being made in bad faith by parties who want to undermine domestic processes and spread disinformation, on the basis of one-sided reports coming from questionable sources,” the DFA said in a statement issued on Saturday night.

“This action indicates the refusal of these parties to engage in true dialogue. By ignoring the accountability and other information provided by the Philippines in good faith, these parties show their bias and political agenda and assail the credibility and objectivity of the human rights mechanisms as constructive platforms of dialogue between the United Nations and the member states,” it added.

On Friday, the UN-commissioned experts said they have recorded a “staggering number” of unlawful deaths and police killings related to the war on drugs campaign of the Duterte Administration, as well as killings of human rights defenders.

“Very few independent and effective investigations have taken place, independent media and journalists are threatened, the law has been weaponized to undermine press freedom, and the independence of the judiciary is undermined,” they said.

READ MORE:  Experts call on UN Human Rights Council to probe violations in PH