President Duterte to UN: PHL committed to protecting human rights

President lambasts “interest groups” that have “weaponized” human rights, reiterates need to address causes of terrorism

(Eagle News) — President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday (Philippine time) reiterated the country’s commitment to protecting human rights, as he lambasted “interest groups” that he said have “weaponized” the same, and called on the need for “open dialogue and constructive engagement” with the United Nations.

In his first address before the UN, the President noted the Philippines would continue to protect people “especially from the scourge of illegal drugs criminality and terrorism.”

Earlier, the President threatened to leave the UN after UN special rapporteurs Agnes Callamard and Dainius Puras publicly criticized the Philippines’ drug campaign, which they claimed had resulted in thousands of extrajudicial killings.

The Palace has reiterated the Philippines was upholding the rule of law in the implementation of the campaign, which has consistently been met with approval by majority of Filipinos based on surveys.

The President said that while “a number” of interest groups who have “weaponized human rights” were “well-meaning,” others were “ill-intentioned” and “pass themselves off as human rights advocates while preying on the most vulnerable humans even using children as soldiers or human shields in encounters.”

He said “even schools are not spared from their malevolence and antigovernment propaganda,” as “they hide their misdeeds under the blanket of human rights but the blood oozes through.”

“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 enjoys the same widespread approval and support,” the President said.

Moving forward, he said “open dialogue and constructive engagement with the UN” were key,  and that this “must be done in full respect of principles of objectivity, noninterference, non-selectivity and  genuine dialogue.”

“These are the fundamental bases of productive international cooperation..,” he said.

“Terrorism looms large”

The President also called for the need to address terrorism, which he said “looms large.”

The Philippines for its part, he said will “do everything and partner with anyone who would sincerely desire to protect the innocent from terrorism and all its manifestations.”

He said the country has learnt from the Marawi Siege in 2017 that an “effective legal framework” was “crucial.”

During the Marawi Siege, local and foreign terrorists reportedly seeking to establish an Islamic caliphate in Southeast Asia overran that part of Lanao del Sur, leaving several dead and thousands displaced.

Five months later, President Duterte declared Marawi “liberated” following the deaths of terrorist leaders Omar Maute and Isnilon Hapilon in the hands of the military.

The President cited the country’s 2020 antiterrorism act, which he said “shores up the legal framework by focusing on both terrorism and the usual reckless response to it.”

“Its enactment was done pursuant to a commitment and the strict adherence to the relevant council resolution and the UN global counterterrorism strategy,” he said.

“Most importantly, we remain  committed to rebuild stricken community and address the root causes of terrorism and violent extremism in my country,” he added.