Philippine permanent representative to the United Nations in Geneva Cecilia Rebong said President Rodrigo Duterte had never empowered police authorities to “shoot to kill” any individual suspected of drug crimes after the UN high commissioner for human rights criticized the rising summary killings in the Philippines, which is backed by the administration’s war on drugs.
The Department of Foreign Affairs said Ambassador Rebong delivered the Philippine statement on Wednesday at the second day of 33rd Session of the UN Human Rights Council in response to the speech of UN high commissioner for human rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein.
She said the Philippine leader’s marching order to police was that they have the right to defend themselves when their lives are endangered when drug suspects violently resist arrest.
Rebong emphasized that the ongoing campaign against illegal drugs had the overwhelming support of the Filipino public.
She said the war on drugs was “being waged under the leadership and direction of President Rodrigo Duterte, with a firm adherence to the rule of law, due process, and human rights principles.”
Rebong also said the anti-illegal drug war was unparalleled in Philippine history for its level of tenacity.
“The Chief Executive, in his inaugural speech, affirmed in no vague language his respect for human rights and the rule of law,” said Rebong in his speech before delegates at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva. She pointed out that President Duterte has, in fact, urged civil rights organizations (NGOs and CSOs) to report any killings which were not in accordance with his pronouncements on the anti-illegal drug campaign.
The Philippine statement, read by Rebong, argued that the recent increase in the number of killings include deaths resulting from legitimate police operations as well as killings carried out by vigilante elements, and drug syndicates undertaking a purge among their ranks.
The DFA also said that the Philippine statement assured the international community that “the government is investigating these killings committed by vigilante groups and drug syndicates, and is committed to bring the perpetrators to justice.”
Rebong said “the Philippines denounces and does not resort to extrajudicial or arbitrary executions, and is gravely concerned about accusations purporting that the administration tolerates such actions.”
She emphasized that “police authorities take seriously allegations of its officers’ involvement in such activities, and follow established internal procedures for investigating and addressing such cases.”
Rebong urged the international community to support the Philippine campaign against illegal drugs.