Press Release
June 25, 2018


*Akbayan Senator Risa Hontiveros on call of 38 countries to the Duterte government to end the killings in its drug war and cooperate with international bodies probing rights abuses

I welcome the call of the 38 countries under the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) to the Duterte administration to end the killings in its war on drugs and to cooperate with international bodies in investigating rights abuses. I am happy that more and more countries are adding their voice in the fight to end the climate of killings and impunity in our country.

Instead of dismissing the countries' call, like a responsible member of the international community, the Duterte government should heed it. It is not enough to say that the government is already making its own assessment of the country's human rights situation. The fact that these countries were compelled to speak in one voice against the abuses in our country is testament that the government is not doing enough.

I find Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano's remark, saying that the 38 countries are simply biased and misinformed, ridiculous. So ibig sabihin biased ang Montenegro sa gobyerno natin? Nagsisinungaling lamang ang Malta? Dilawan ang Croatia at Cyprus? It's absurd!

Secretary Cayetano should know that many of the countries that signed the petition have various missions to the country, manned by hundreds of staff. They know what is happening around here.

And assuming without conceding that Cayetano is correct in saying that these countries are biased and misinformed, does this not speak of his effectiveness as the country's foreign affairs secretary? Following his logic, does this mean as foreign affairs secretary, he failed to convince the international community of the real situation in the country? China lang ba kaya niyang kumbinsihin?

I'm sure that the Duterte government will again play the sovereignty card, saying that the said countries are meddling in our domestic affairs. There is nothing patriotic about shutting the world off from the horrors of the thousands of unsolved killings in our country. It is not a defense of the country's sovereignty. Rather, it is the perpetuation of the culture of killing and impunity.

Kaya tama na sana ang palusot. The Duterte government should stop making excuses. If it has nothing to hide, it will not find it hard to cooperate with the international community to investigate all related deaths and hold perpetrators accountable, and to take concrete actions to stop the killings associated with its bloody war against drugs.

The Duterte government must understand that the Philippines is part of a global community joined not only by trade and economic ties, but by the shared respect for human dignity and social welfare. We thus have an obligation to democracy, human rights and rule of law. And this obligation includes subjecting our public policies and governance affairs to scrutiny, in the same way that we may scrutinize, protest or constructively engage the actions of other states or global players.

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