EU envoy to gov’t: Drug war creates ripples outside of Philippines
MANILA, Philippines – A top foreign diplomat has reminded the Philippine government that its war against illegal drugs has overseas effects.
According to outgoing European Union (EU) Ambassador Franz Jessen, some investors have been discouraged by their relatives from going to the Philippines because of security concerns.
“I think one issue that we have tried to push with the government is that this should not be seen as a domestic issue, but is an issue that also has effect on the way that the Philippines is being perceived (globally),” Jessen told reporters in Makati City.
“It also has an impact on the way that the investors are looking at the Philippines. In the early days, three years ago, I know a European company that had a very large BPO (business process outsourcing) operation here, and the visitor from Europe said his wife almost prevented him from coming because she had read so much about the Philippines and said it was too dangerous,” he added.
According to Jessen, while it might not be as dangerous as it may seem to people familiar with the Philippines, there is a possibility that the issue affects the economy by driving away investors.
“Of course when you live here, you don’t see that at all, you don’t feel that you’re not safe here […] From the outset, there’s a little bit of an anxiety, how is the security situation in the Philippines,”
EU member-states have previously raised concerns about the human rights issues plaguing President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration since 2017, back when the Philippine National Police (PNP) anti-drug program “Oplan Tokhang” has left more than 3,200 drug suspects dead.
Latest figures from concerned agencies puts the casualties at 6,600 suspects — all in legitimate police operations. However, opposition groups say the true figures may be around 11,000, to a high of 30,000.
Malacañang earlier slammed the EU for intervening in local politics, with Duterte himself calling the foreign body’s officials ‘idiots’.
The program against illegal drugs has been a campaign promise of Duterte.
However, Jessen clarified that their call to uphold human rights and stop extra-judicial killings (EJKs) does not apply to Duterte alone — in fact, this issue was also discussed with Duterte’s predecessor, former President Benigno Aquino III.
“Clearly that has been one of the key issues in the past three years, but also if you look back, it was not actually only limited to the last three years, it was also something that we held before that we sometimes tend to forget,” he explained.
“When I came here four years ago, one of the key issues there was EJKs, and that was under the previous government. So it’s not something that we have not discussed with the government,” he added.
Recently, EU welcomed the decision of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) to adopt Iceland’s resolution calling for a greater scrutiny of the administration’s drug war, after 18 of 47 member-states gave the nod.
With the decision, UNHRC was authorized to deploy teams to check on the human rights situation in the country. /muf
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