Cayetano blasts U.N. human rights chief

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 14 2017 12:25 AM

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein attends a media briefing in Geneva, Switzerland. Denis Balibouse, Reuters/file photo

MANILA - Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano on Wednesday lashed out at the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on his assessment of the human rights situation in the Philippines.

Cayetano, in a press statement, said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and Jordanian Prince Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein “severely mischaracterized” the Philippines' human rights record.

"The Commissioner’s report would have been balanced and accurate had he considered the information that we provided, instead of just relying on uncorroborated information," Cayetano said.

“The Philippines has provided the Human Rights Council with all the facts regarding the campaign against illegal drugs in our report to the Third Cycle of the Universal Periodic Review [UPR] in May 2017," he added.

The statement came after Zeid said he is “gravely concerned" about President Rodrigo Duterte's "open support for a shoot-to-kill policy" against drug suspects as part of his anti-drug campaign. 

"In the Philippines, I continue to be gravely concerned by the President's open support for a shoot-to-kill policy regarding suspects, as well as by the apparent absence of credible investigations into reports of thousands of extrajudicial killings, and the failure to prosecute any perpetrator," Zeid said in a speech at the 36th session of the Human Rights Council (HRC) in Geneva.

Cayetano said the agency’s report submitted to the Universal Periodic Review of the UNHRC last May shows the Duterte administration’s anti-drug campaign follows “all means that the law allows.”

'Highly-biased' 

Philippine Deputy Permanent Representative Maria Teresa Almojuela in Geneva, meanwhile, claimed that "highly-biased and sweeping generalizations" have no place in the UNHRC.

Duterte previously threatened to pull out the Philippines from the world body following criticisms of his drug war. 

He has invited U.N. Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary and Arbitrary Executions Agnes Callamard to investigate the killings, but the latter turned down his conditions because they violate the U.N.'s code of conduct and procedures. 

P1,000 budget for CHR

The lower House on Tuesday also cut the Commission on Human Rights' (CHR) 2018 budget to just P1,000, with 1SAGIP party-list Rep. Rodante Marcoleta saying the constitutional body should defend Duterte over killings related to his administration's war on drugs. 

At a Senate hearing, Philippine National Police chief Ronald Dela Rosa said the PNP has recorded 2,216 cases of drug suspects killed in police operations.

This is contrary to estimates by human rights organizations, which put the death toll at 9,000 to 10,000, figures that the government has said are bloated. 

The Duterte administration has repeatedly denied that extrajudicial killings are state-sponsored.