3 senators back Robredo on UN probe of rights violations
MANILA, Philippines — Three senators on Monday agreed with Vice President Leni Robredo that the Duterte administration should be open to the call of UN human rights experts for an independent inquiry into killings linked to its war on drugs.
“It is only a recommendation made by the so-called experts on human rights. Whether it will be given due course by the UNHRC (United Nations Human Rights Council) is another matter,” Sen. Panfilo Lacson said in a text message.
“Having said that, the Philippines, being a member of the UN in good standing, should respect and welcome any official act of the international body,” he added.
Robredo on Sunday said the government should welcome the UN human rights experts’ call if the administration had nothing to hide.
“If it’s true that there are no human rights violations in our country, why should we oppose the investigation?” she said.
Appropriate for UN
In a written statement, detained opposition Sen. Leila de Lima said it was only appropriate for the United Nations to step into the matter as the government had failed to investigate, arrest and prosecute people behind the killings.
De Lima alleged that 28,000 people, among them more than 5,000 drug suspects whom the government claims were killed in police operations after resisting arrest, have died since 2016, when the President launched the war on drugs.
The rest, she added, were victims classified under the “homicide cases under investigation” by the Philippine National Police.
The government insists that the more than 5,000 drug suspects killed by police all put up a fight.
Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo on Monday said the joint statement of 11 UN special rapporteurs was a repeat of the “same false narratives against this government.”
“How can you be asking for an investigation when you have already concluded that this country has violated certain human rights and has killed many people,” Panelo said at a press briefing.
“What’s the use of investigating if you already have a conclusion?”
He described the human rights experts as “foreign propagandists masquerading as human rights protectors” and said their call for an inquiry was “an outrageous interference in Philippine sovereignty.”
Sen. Francis Pangilinan said the Duterte administration’s continued disregard for the lives of ordinary Filipinos justified the need for an inquiry.
“What’s happening now is mass murder. This should be condemned not just by our countrymen, but by the whole world,” Pangilinan said. —With a report from Julie M. Aurelio
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