EU presses Duterte gov’t on human rights issues in war vs drugs
MANILA — European Union (EU) officials have raised “concerns” about the Duterte administration’s human rights record during a high-level meeting with their counterparts from the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).
The issue, which stemmed from the continuing spate of extrajudicial killings under the so-called “war on drugs,” came up during the 9th Philippine-EU Senior Officials Meeting (SOM) held in Manila on Tuesday.
“Both sides had a candid exchange of views on the human rights situation in the Philippines and the EU, and raised their respective concerns,” the DFA and EU said in a joint statement issued on Wednesday.
The joint statement noted the “importance of constructive engagement and meaningful cooperation on issues of mutual interest.”
Both sides exchanged views on political and economic developments in the Philippines and the EU even as they “reaffirmed their continued commitment to further strengthen bilateral cooperation on a broad range of issues.”
“The Philippines informed the EU of the government’s commitment to ensure inclusive economic growth and development, its holistic approach to the anti-illegal drugs campaign and updates on the current situation in Marawi,” the joint statement said.
Foreign Undersecretary Enrique Manalo led the DFA delegation while the EU was led by Gunnar Wiegand, managing director for Asia and the Pacific of the European External Action Service. The previous SOM was held in 2013.
The Philippine National Police said 3,200 suspected drug dealers and users have been killed, while 86,933 others have been arrested since President Rodrigo Duterte assumed office last year.
But killings of drug suspects, either by the police or by unknown assailants, are being reported daily.
Last month, 32 countries in Europe expressed “deep concern” over extrajudicial killings related to the anti-illegal drug campaign.
They urged the government to allow United Nations special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions Agnes Callamard to investigate the situation “without preconditions or limitations.”
But the Philippine delegation led by then senator now Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Cayetano merely downplayed the rising number of extrajudicial killings of drug suspects in a meeting before the UN Human Rights Council in April.
Duterte has constantly railed against the EU, along with the UN and the United States, whenever their officials would criticize his anti-drug campaign.
The EU has extended 850,000 euros (or P49 million) in emergency assistance through the International Committee of the Red Cross to displaced Marawi residents staying in evacuation centers.
The Philippines and the EU also exchanged views on “important regional and multilateral issues,” including the country’s territorial dispute with China over the West Philippine Sea, terrorism and violent extremism, and the situation in the Korean Peninsula.
“The Philippines and the EU remain committed to peace and stability and the peaceful settlement of disputes in the West Philippine Sea/South China Sea,” said the joint statement. SFM
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