Filtered By: Topstories

PHL envoys in Geneva hit back at European critics, deny culture of impunity

Ambassadors of the Philippine Mission to the United Nations in Geneva took offense and hit back at European countries that criticized the human rights situation in the Philippines.

"We take grave exception to the sweeping and politicized statement delivered by Iceland on behalf of a group of States," the group said during the general debate at the 36th Session of the Human Rights Council last Wednesday.

In a joint statement delivered by Iceland, 39 countries including the United States and the United Kingdom expressed concern about what they said were the "thousands of killings" and the alleged climate of impunity associated with the Philippine government's ongoing campaign against illegal drugs.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano had earlier said the criticism was "based on biased and questionable information and failed to appreciate Manila's willingness to work with the international community on human rights issues."

"It is very unfortunate that instead of engaging us constructively, some western countries would rather criticize and impose conditions as if they can do a better job than the Philippine Government in protecting the Filipino people," he said.

He added that the Philippines has expressed its readiness to allow international experts to assess the country's human rights situation on the condition that they are fair and independent.

However, he objected to allowing UN Special Rapporteur Agnes Callamard to investigate the spate of killings and alleged human rights abuses in the country, saying that Callamard "already prejudged the Philippine Government as guilty of committing human rights violations."

'No culture of impunity'

Meanwhile, Philippine Permanent Representative Evan Garcia and Philippine Deputy Permanent Representative Maria Teresa Almojuela denied that there was a culture of impunity in the Philippines.

"We have internal mechanisms to investigate all law enforcement operations that lead to deaths," Almojuela said.

Garcia also lamented other countries' inability to grasp the threats posed by illegal drugs.

"It is very regrettable that some still do not grasp the full import of the deadly connections between illegal narcotics and terrorism, and of the threat that narco-politics poses to our national security and the very fabric of our society," he said.

"Unfortunately, it still appears that some parties refuse to understand certain aspects of our human rights efforts. So let us be clear. There is no culture of impunity in the Philippines," he added.

The group said it had addressed the matters raised extensively and in detail during previous Council sessions and the recent UPR and country briefings.

It added that the Philippines would continue to engage in "genuine and constructive dialogue" on the matter of human rights. — MDM, GMA News