From initially saying the Philippines "[did] not need the money" of Iceland and the 17 other nations…
Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin warned on July 11 of “consequences; far reaching ones” as he rejected the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) resolution to report on human rights in the Philippines next June.
“The Philippines rejects this resolution. It cannot, in good conscience, abide by it. We will not accept a politically partisan and one-sided resolution, so detached from the truth on the ground,” Locsin said in a four-page statement issued upon approval by the UNHRC of a resolution initiated by Iceland. 18 countries voted in favor of the resolution while 14 opposed and 15 countries abstained.
Locsin further said, “we will not tolerate any form of disrespect or acts of bad faith. There will be consequences; far-reaching ones.”
President Duterte’s reaction, on the other hand, did not outrightly object to the UNHRC probe, “Let them state their purpose and I will review. Kung dagdag lang sila sa intriga [If they will just add to the intrigue], they better go to the media. And the media will tell them the truth," he told reporters in Malacanang.
The resolution gives UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet a year to prepare a "comprehensive written report on the situation of human rights in the Philippines.”
The resolution also expresses concern about the range of rights violations in the country and calls on the government to cooperate with UN human rights mechanisms and experts.
Bachelet said in a March 9 speech before the UNHRC that “up to 27,000 people may have been killed in the context of the campaign against illegal drugs since mid-2016.” Communications Assistant Secretary Maria Rafael-Banaag called the figure cited “baseless.” She is wrong. (See: VERA FILES FACT CHECK: PCOO Asec. Rafael-Banaag contradicts official gov’t data on drug war)
Bachelet's spokesperson, Ravina Shamdasani, said the report would offer an opportunity to "get clarity around the contested facts, figures and circumstances" of the drug war.
The Philippine government earlier denounced the resolution as a "divisive motion" and sought to block it.
Resolution 'crucial' for accountability
The Commission on Human Rights (CHR), which has often drawn Duterte’s ire for criticizing the drug war, said it welcomes the resolution and that the probe could provide ways to improve the country’s human rights situation.
“As a member of the Council, the Philippine Government - despite vigorously campaigning against its adoption - should show that it genuinely adheres to Universal values and standards by seeing this as a prospect to cooperate closely with the international community in ensuring full respect and compliance with the globally accepted norms of human rights,” the agency said.
“We should also seriously review the current misguided policy of refusing access to the Special Mechanisms on Human Rights and instead consider extending a standing invitation to all special rapporteurs and working groups,” the CHR added.
International human rights organization Human Rights Watch lauded the adoption of the resolution, calling it a “crucial” move to hold the Philippine government accountable.
“The Human Rights Council resolution on the Philippines is a modest but vital measure,” said the group’s Deputy Director for United Nations Laila Matar in a statement. “It signals the start of accountability for thousands of ‘drug war’-related killings and other abuses, and will provide hope to countless survivors and families of victims.”