On Thursday, July 11, the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) has approved a resolution seeking a comprehensive report regarding the human rights situation in the Philippines, specifically the reported extrajudicial killings in line with the administration’s war on drugs.

The said resolution demands Michelle Bachelet, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, to write a comprehensive report on the Philippines. 

Out of 47 countries of the UN Human Rights Council, 18 has approved the resolution. On the other hand, 14 other nations voted no while the remaining 15 abstained. 

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodor Locsin Jr. said that the resolution will not have any effect.

“No effect. Such resolutions especially those passed by a tiny minority can and will be ignored. No consequences,” Locsin said on Twitter.

Also, he warned that “the initiative to insult the Philippines with the assumption without proof  that it commits gross abuses there will be far reaching consequences.”

Meanwhile, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo stated that countries who approved the resolution have based it on false narratives whereas those who abstained and voted no do not the probe. 

“These countries did not believe in that Iceland resolution, so effectively it is a victory for the Philippines in that sense,” Panelo said on Thursday.

Since Duterte took office in 2016, government data show that minimum of 6,600 have been killed in drug buy-bust operations. The Philippines’ Commission on Human Rights and the other international human rights groups have fixed the death at over 27,000.

Akbayan Youth cries to stop the killings. (Image source: Al Jareeza)

Response on the adoption of the resolution

In addition, spokesperson of UNHRC Ravina Shamdasani said that the resolution  “is an opportunity for all stakeholders, including the Government to assess the current state of human rights in the country and in particular to get clarity around the contested facts, figures and circumstances.”

Furthermore, Laila Matar, Geneva deputy director at Human Rights Watch, stated that the said to probe human rights in the Philippines is a moderate but essential measure that  “signals the start of accountability for thousands of ‘drug war’-related killings and other abuses.” She said “the challenge now is to ensure that the process moves quickly to compel the Philippine government to stop the killings and prosecute those responsible.”

On July 4, Iceland had drafted the resolution and 27 other countries supported it. 

The two-page draft resolution states that the Philippines has to cooperate with the possible probe of UNHRC, “including facilitating country visits and preventing and refraining from all acts of intimidation or retaliation.”

However, Panelo said that the call was not appropriate. 

“In the first place, we do not retaliate, neither do we intimidate,” he said.

Moreover, the draft resolution also “urges the government of the Philippines to take all necessary measures to prevent extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances, to carry out impartial investigations and to hold perpetrators accountable in accordance with international norms and standards including those on due process and the rule of law.”

President Duterte seeks purpose for the probe

President Rodrigo Duterte said that he first wanted to know the purpose of UNHRC investigation on extrajudicial killings under his drug war campaign.

“Let them state their purpose and I will review it,” Duterte told reporters on Thursday in Malacañang.

He also said that if the UN body only wants to add fire to the issue, then he would just refer them to the media.

“Kasi kung magdagdag lang sila sa intriga (if they will just add to the controversy), they better go to the media and the media will tell them the truth. Eh ipalabas ninyo ‘yung footages ninyong lahat and all, and that will clear everybody,” the President said.

Duterte has confronted both local and international over his war on drugs that started during his presidency three years ago.


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