Go welcomes UNHCR resolution on technical assistance to PH to address human rights concerns

Published October 13, 2020, 11:38 AM

by Mario Casayuran

Senator Christopher “Bong” Go on Tuesday welcomed the resolution adopted by the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHCR) last week providing technical assistance to the Philippines to address human rights concerns in the country in relation to its war against dangerous drugs.

Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go (OFFICE OF SEN. BONG GO / MANILA BULLETIN)

He said  the resolution will “pave the way for deeper cooperation and more positive engagement in addressing the menace of illegal drugs in the country.”    

Go, chairman of the Senate Health and Demography Committee, emphasized that the country already has the necessary mechanisms and functional institutions, such as the independent judicial system, and that the resolution will further strengthen these.

“I believe that we have the necessary mechanisms and functional institutions, including an independent judiciary. This will be a step in the right direction as this offer of technical assistance to the Philippines will further strengthen these mechanisms and institutions,” Go said.

“We have a robust and active democracy with an elected government which continues to enjoy the trust and confidence of the vast majority of our people,” he added.

The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) cited that from the start of the campaign against illegal drugs in July, 2016, until the latest data provided in August this year, 176,777 anti-illegal drugs operations have been conducted with over 256,788 persons arrested.

In the same period, a total of 620 drug dens and clandestine laboratories were dismantled and 3,322 children from 7 to 17 years old were rescued in these anti-drug operations.

Go urged the international community to combat the illegal drugs trade as a global community now that it has taken a transnational character.

“As President Duterte said in his first address to the UN General Assembly, open dialogue and constructive engagement with the United Nations is the key,” Go said.

The UNHCR resolution was proposed by the Philippines, India, and Nepal, and UNHRC non-members, namely Hungary, Iceland, Norway, Thailand, and Turkey. It was also adopted unanimously.

Under the resolution, the office of the UN Rights Chief Michelle Bachelet is asked to provide support to the Philippine government in its “continued fulfillment of its international human rights obligations and commitments.” 

The assistance will focus on domestic investigative and accountability measures, data gathering on alleged police violations, engagement with civil society and the Commission on Human Rights.

Moreover, it will also tackle national mechanisms for reporting and follow-up, counterterrorism legislation, and human rights-based approaches to drug control.

“Since Day 1, the Duterte administration vowed to protect the rights of the Filipino from the evils of illegal drugs, criminality, and terrorism. I look forward to more meaningful engagements with other countries and international bodies as we continue to provide a safe and comfortable life for all Filipinos,” Go added.

As a senator, Go said that he will continue the current administration’s campaign against illegal drugs.

He said that he has filed measures that will bolster the law enforcement bodies and justice system. 

“I have filed measures that will strengthen further the ability of our law enforcement bodies and justice system in combating illegal drugs as well as to provide holistic measures, such as the establishment of more drug abuse treatment and rehabilitation centers nationwide,” Go said. 

In July, 2019, Go filed Senate Bill 399 that seeks to establish drug abuse treatment and rehabilitation centers in every province in the country under the supervision of the health department.

The measure seeks to augment the ongoing campaign against illegal drugs by adopting a two-pronged approach—subduing the criminals responsible for drug-related crimes while providing care and attention for the rehabilitation and recovery of drug dependents.  

Go said that in the fight against illegal drugs, attention must also be directed towards the rehabilitation and recovery of its victims.

He also said that drug dependents can be considered victims of the drug trade. 

Go stressed that drug dependents should also be treated as victims in dire need of medical, psychological, and spiritual help, with a chance of being successfully reintegrated into society as reformed, healthy, and productive citizens. 

If enacted into law, the center will be tasked to provide care, treatment, and accommodation to persons found to be drug dependents. 

According to the senator from Davao, the objective of the centers is to bring a drug-dependent person to a state where he is physically, psychologically, and socially capable of coping with problems common to his peer group. These centers will also facilitate and encourage the dissemination and exchange of ideas and information on the prevention, care, treatment and control of drug addiction.

Likewise, Go said that each center will be tasked to provide after-care, follow-up, and social reintegration services to enable a drug dependent to adjust to family and community life after release.

The centers shall be required to provide each drug dependent the motivation to regain self-confidence, rediscover his working abilities, and develop a sense of responsibility for himself.