Palace slams EU criticism of drug war
Malacañang on Friday accused the European Parliament of again meddling in Philippine affairs by calling for a stop to alleged extrajudicial killings in the war on drugs, daring the legislators to back their claim that the death toll in the antinarcotics campaign had reached 12,000.
“We, of course, find it unfortunate that members of the European Parliament (MEP) once again interfered with the affairs of the Philippine state, rehashing issues and baseless claims that have been explained adequately by the Philippine government in several official statements,” presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said in a press briefing.
The European Parliament and its members have criticized the Philippines’ brutal antinarcotics crackdown several times, infuriating President Duterte, who has directed his frustration on the European Union (EU), rather than its legislative branch.
In a resolution passed on Thursday that tackled a wide range of political and civil rights issues in the Philippines, the MEP condemned extrajudicial killings that targeted mainly the poor in the antidrug campaign, the continued detention of Sen. Leila de Lima and threats against human rights defenders, including Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, the United Nations special rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples.
Ouster from UN rights council
The MEP also urged the Duterte administration to stop the reimposition of the death penalty, “which is against Philippines’ international obligations” such as the General System of Preferences and the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement with the EU.
The resolution also “encourages” the EU and its member states to consider calling for the ouster of the Philippines from the UN Human Rights Council “before its current membership term expires at the end of 2018.”
Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said the MEP had “crossed a red line” in proposing “unwarranted and uncalled for actions” against the Philippines.
He said the resolution was based on “biased, incomplete and even wrong information and does not reflect the true situation on the ground.”
“It is really disappointing that European lawmakers have allowed themselves to be influenced and manipulated by certain interest groups in the Philippines and abroad who have politicized and weaponized human rights as part of their efforts to undermine the legitimately installed government of President Duterte,” Cayetano said in a statement late on Thursday.
Roque asked the European Parliament “to exercise prudence in issuing resolutions,” saying there was a proper way of bringing up their concerns with Manila.
Roque said some of the European parliamentarians have close ties to the opposition who had tried to “distort realities” in the Philippines.
“I find it inconsistent that the European Parliament will condemn the war against drugs which is now also being financed partly by the European Union,” he said, citing an unspecified amount of aid for the antinarcotics campaign.
PNP chief: Death toll ‘bloated’
Newly installed Philippine National Police chief Oscar Albayalde said the MEP’s death toll figure was “bloated.”
“We do not know where they got their data that there were more than 12,000,” he said. “I think they should give us a copy of where they got the 12,000 deaths. They should specify these incidents and name all the 12,000 victims.”
According to official PNP records, 4,128 drug “personalities” have been killed from July 1, 2016 to April 9, 2018 in 83,057 police antidrug operations nationwide that resulted also in the arrest of more than 130,000 suspects.
Roque said the government has filed cases against police officers involved in unlawful killings as proof that “impunity doesn’t have a place in our society.”
In the case of De Lima, one of Mr. Duterte’s sharpest critics, Roque said her detention on illegal drug charges followed “strict legal procedures” affirmed by the Supreme Court.
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