DAVAO CITY (MindaNews /30 Sept) — The Duterte administration is on track in saving the country from illegal drugs despite the criticisms the government’s controversial war against drugs has drawn from opposition and international community, Foreign Affairs secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said.
In his speech at the High-Level General Debate of the 73rd Session of the United Nations General Assembly at the UN Headquarters in New York at 2 p.m. Saturday (Sunday 2 a.m. in Manila), Cayetano said the Duterte administration is “on track in salvaging our deteriorating country from becoming a narco-state or a state held hostage by the rich and powerful who ignore the plight of the poor, powerless and marginalized, or worse both.”
He said the government adheres to the Universal Declaration on Human Rights amid reports of numerous human rights abuses occurring under the term of President Rodrigo Duterte, particularly in his war on drugs.
Cayetano vowed the country will not compromise the rule of law and that it would pursue “just and equitable peace that leads to order, development and prosperity, and protection of each and every human being’s rights.”
He defended the Duterte administration’s war on drugs from allegations of human rights abuses by saying that it has implemented reforms to protect the rights of the Filipinos.
“We are instituting all of these reforms to be able to protect the rights of every single Filipino and every single human being living in the Philippines. Yes, the rights of all Filipinos and all human beings, if that is at all possible,” he said.
Cayetano pointed out that the government would rather choose to protect the rights of the law enforcers and law-abiding citizens than those of the druglords or criminals who seek to kill and destroy.
“Wouldn’t you do the same? Which country, which leader wouldn’t do the same to protect your citizens and protect your law enforcers?” he said.
He said there would always be challenges but added they continue to hope as “hope leads to faith and faith with action produces miracles.”
Critics of the President slammed the bloody war on drugs alleging it has worsened the culture of impunity in the country with the increasing number of extra-judicial killings.
The Human Rights Watch (HRW) estimated some 12,000 men, women, and children have been killed in the anti-drug campaign since Duterte became President in 2016.
Government’s RealNumbersPH listed4,410 “drug personalities who died in anti-drug operations” from July 1, 2016 to July 31, 2018. It also noted a total of 105,658 anti-drug operations conducted while 152,123 drug personalities were arrested.”
The President drew for flak for his September 27 statement in Malacañan Palace that was deemed as his admission to “extra-judicial killing.”
“Nagnakaw ba ako diyan ni piso? Sige daw. Did I prosecute somebody na ipinakulong ko? Ang kasalanan ko lang ‘yung mga extrajudicial killing. (Did I steal even one peso? Did I prosecute somebody who I ordered jailed? My only sin is extrajudicial killings),” he said.
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque downplayed the President’s controversial remark as being “playful.”
HRW-Asian Division deputy director Phelim Kine in a statement on September 28 said Duterte’s recent statement “is a boon to the prosecutor’s office of the International Criminal Court, which is conducting a preliminary examination into possible crimes against humanity linked to Duterte’s murderous “war on drugs.”
“Duterte’s admission could also boost efforts by United Nations member states seeking a UN probe into the killings,” he said.
Cayetano acknowledged the UN’s role that provides the venue of great opportunity to put action to their faith and changing the world for the better.
“This is of course if we can transcend our personal and sometimes national interest for the interest of the global community or simply put for the greater good. Faith without action is dead, and the UN is not a place to bury our dead. It is a place to rise up, to resurrect our hopes and to dream of a better world,” he said. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)