PH to UN council: Do not politicize, weaponize human rights

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Foreign Affairs Chief Alan Peter Cayetano. (FILE PHOTO)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, February 28) — The Philippine government on Tuesday called on the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) not to "politicize or weaponize" human rights.

"We have been called upon to cooperate with the mechanisms of the Human Rights Council, we have always cooperated, and today reaffirm our readiness to cooperate," Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said. "Constructive engagement in a multilateral context is badly needed in our world today. We need to engage and act and not merely name and shame."

Cayetano spoke before the 47 delegates of the international human rights body in Geneva, Switzerland. He emphasized that the Duterte administration launched its war against illegal drugs "to save lives, to preserve families, to protect communities and stop the country from sliding into a narco state."

"As a sovereign nation, we deserve respect and even support for our right to life and liberty, our sovereign right to self-determination, to make our people safe and secure from all threats, terrorism, corruption and criminality," he said.

The Foreign Affairs Chief also said the Philippines is ready for a probe, but  UN special rapporteurs should observe the code of conduct, and should avoid politicizing the issue.

"All we ask for is fairness. There are 7.5 billion people in the world; send anyone except one who has already prejudged us, and who, by any measure, cannot be considered independent and more so, objective," he explained.

On Tuesday, Malacañang said it is open to having a UN expert investigate the country's drug war as long as it is not Special Rapporteur Agnes Callamard, who has been vocal about the human rights situation in the country.

READ: Callamard calls for probe on all 'unlawful' deaths following Kian slay

Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said Callamard failed to pass the government's standards in terms of "character, credibility, and trustworthiness."

READ: Roque to recommend UN expert to probe drug war

The drug war under President Rodrigo Duterte has been the subject of criticism of local and international human rights groups. While government data shows that around 4,000 drug suspects were killed in operations since the start of Duterte's term in 2016, the groups believe the number to be as high as 13,000 -- including those killed in vigilante-style executions.