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Palace slams UN for ‘seeming incomprehension’ of drug problem

/ 05:21 PM August 19, 2016
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Presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO/JOAN BONDOC

Malacañang on Friday accused the United Nations (UN) and other international observers of “incomprehension” as they criticize President Rodrigo Duterte’s war against illegal drugs.

“What is more alarming than the pandemic use and trade of illegal drugs in the Philippines is the seeming incomprehension by local and international observers,” Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said.

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Abella’s statement was released a day after UN rapporteurs criticized Duterte for allowing summary killings to proliferate under his watch.

READ:  UN rapporteurs air concern over PH drug killings

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Agnes Callamard, UN special rapporteur on summary executions, said illegal drug trafficking should be decided by courts “not by gunmen on the streets.”

“We call on the Philippine authorities to adopt with immediate effect the necessary measures to protect all persons from targeted killings and extrajudicial executions,” Callamard said in a statement.

Dainius Puras, UN special rapporteur on the right to health, also said the drug issue should be treated as a public health issue and actions against the illegal trade should be carried out in full compliance with the Philippines’ human rights obligations.

Puras and Callamard said Duterte’s public condemnation of the vigilante killings “is not enough.”

On the other hand, Abella pointed out that there is a rise in “narco-politicians” who buy votes using money earned from the illegal drug trade.

“In his pursuit to staunch the flood of drugs from nearby countries and entrenched manufacturers in key cities and locations, the President framed the menace in terms of war, which resulted in a number of deaths, but even more surprisingly, in the surrender of hundreds of thousands of users,” the spokesperson said.

He said Duterte has already tasked the police to investigate cases involving vigilantes and innocent people killed in police operations.

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“The nature of a number of deaths though [implies] internecine, or organizational killings within the drug trade,” he claimed.

Abella reiterated Duterte’s earlier pronouncement that he will not tolerate extrajudicial killings. “Nor is it policy,” he added.

READ: Duterte ‘bothered, troubled’ by drug-related killings

Citing a decrease in crime rate, Abella said, “The President therefore decries the attribution of killings to the Philippine government.”

“This is simply unfair, especially to the hardworking men and women in uniform who risk their lives and limbs to win the war against drugs,” he said.

“The government approach is to see drugs as a public health and social issue, but also as a national security issue.” RAM/rga

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TAGS: extrajudicial killings, Illegal Drugs, President Rodrigo Duterte, Presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella, UN, United Nations
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