‘Open dialogue’ with UN needed to address rights issues in PH – Duterte
MANILA, Philippines — In his first-ever speech before the United Nations General Assembly, President Rodrigo Duterte said that an “open dialogue and constructive engagement” with the international body would be needed to address the human rights issues hounding his administration.
In his pre-recorded 20-minute speech before other world leaders, Duterte said that the Philippines would “continue to protect the human rights of its people, especially from the scourge of illegal drugs, criminality, and terrorism.”
Over the course of his presidency, Duterte has publicly lashed out at the UN and its officials for calling out the alleged rights violations in his administration’s bloody war on drugs.
He has repeatedly rejected calls for a UN probe into the country’s human rights situation, calling an affront to Philippine sovereignty.
Duterte said some “interest groups” in the Philippines — “some well-meaning, others ill-intentioned” — had weaponized human rights.
“They attempt to discredit the functioning institutions and mechanisms of a democratic country and a popularly elected government which in its last two years, still enjoy the same widespread approval and support,” Duterte said.
“These detractors pass themselves off as human rights advocates while preying on the most vulnerable humans; even using children as soldiers or human shields in encounters. Even schools are not spared from their malevolence and anti-government propaganda,” he added.
“They hide their misdeeds under the blanket of human rights but the blood oozes through. To move forward, open dialogue and constructive engagement with the United Nations is the key,” he went on.
Earlier, UN Human Rights chief Michelle Bachelet called on the Philippine government to stop its violent policies and rhetoric.
This was followed by a warning from European Union lawmakers that the Philippines could lose its tariff perks over rights abuses.
Duterte launched his controversial drug war when he took office in mid-2016. Since then, nearly 9,000 people had been killed during anti-drug operations.
Human rights advocates argued, however, that the number of deaths had reached at least 27,000, including vigilante-style killings that were not considered part of legitimate law enforcement operations.
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