By Daniel Llanto
In a resolution to conclude its 45th session in Geneva, the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) evidently abandoned its disapproval of President Duterte’s anti-illegal drug war and instead asked the Philippine office of Council Chief Michelle Bachelet to provide technical assistance and capacity-building for support.
Elated administration officials and the Philippine National Police took the UNHRC resolution as a testimonial that the drug war protects rather than violates human rights in the country.
Interior and Local Government Sec. Eduardo Año said the government’s approach to illegal drugs is holistic.
Sen. Bong Go, de facto presidential assistant and spokesman, also welcomed the resolution, saying it will “pave the way for deeper cooperation and more positive engagement in addressing the menace of illegal drugs in the country.”
Go stressed that the country already has the necessary mechanisms and functional institutions, such as the independent judicial system, and that the resolution will further strengthen these.
Just as ecstatic is the PNP which said the UNHRC resolution “spared the Philippines from international probe into alleged human-rights abuses.”
“We acknowledge this manifestation of the UNHRC’s recognition of the Philippine government’s initiatives to review and re-evaluate all allegations of human-rights violations in the implementation of the national anti-illegal drugs campaign,” the PNP said in a statement issued through its spokesman Col. Ysmael Yu.
The UNHRC resolution adopted at the close of its annual session in Geneva called for technical assistance and capacity-building support to the Philippines’ human-rights effort, instead of moving to investigate the country on its human rights record.
Under the resolution, the office of the UN Rights Chief Michelle Bachelet was asked to provide support to the Philippine government in its “continued fulfillment of its international human rights obligations and commitments.”
The assistance is to focus on domestic investigative and accountability measures, data gathering on alleged police violations, engagement with civil society and the Commission on Human Rights.
Moreover, it will also tackle national mechanisms for reporting and follow-up, counter-terrorism legislation, and human rights-based approaches to drug control.
This resolution was adopted two months after a UN report declared that the Duterte administration’s war on drugs has resulted in “systematic violations, including killings, arbitrary detentions, and vilification of dissent.”
The PNP said the support in the area of human rights will strengthen its effort in protecting human rights, especially in its operations.
“The proposed technical cooperation and capacity-building for the promotion and protection of human rights in the Philippines offers more opportunities for the PNP to further promote our own advocacy to protect, respect and fulfill human rights in all aspects of police operation,” Yu said.
“This will further strengthen the PNP’s firm commitment to uphold the rule of law, through strict adherence to the PNP Operational Procedures or Rules of Engagement that emphasizes highly respect for human rights and international humanitarian law,” he added.
The PNP spokesman said the UNHRC resolution and its intention will not cause the organization to celebrate, rather further prod the PNP to improve.
“The PNP will do its job as intended and perform its best for what is right and to assure that PNP will always be there to serve and protect every Filipino family as its partners,” Yu said.
Go urged the international community to combat the illegal drugs trade as a global community now that it has taken a trans-national character.
“As President Duterte said in his first address to the UN General Assembly, open dialogue and constructive engagement with the United Nations is the key,” Go said.
The UNHCR resolution was proposed by the Philippines, India, and Nepal, and UNHRC non-members, namely Hungary, Iceland, Norway, Thailand, and Turkey. It was also adopted unanimously.