“The tone adopted by President Duterte in his speech to the UN General Assembly was properly moderate and constructive, but the substance contained the same poisonous language that has led to countless extrajudicial killings in the Philippines in these last four years,” said Mr Peter Murphy, Chairperson of the Global Council of the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines today.
“It is perverse for the President to redefine human rights as protection from illegal drugs, criminality, and terrorism, when human rights begin with the right to life, as set out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,”, said Mr Murphy. “But the President has repeatedly and recklessly called for lives to be ended, women to be raped, telling his soldiers and police that he will take the blame.”
“We must categorically reject the President’s allegation that human rights advocates, including us in ICHRP, use children as human shields or child soldiers. The harsh reality is that the President’s soldiers drop bombs or fire artillery on indigenous and peasant communities with children. With regard to the Lumad schools in Mindanao, he himself threatened to bomb them, his soldiers continue to harrass school teachers and burn or close down the school. The continuing atrocities led to the murder of a Lumad student by a state-sanctioned paramilitary group in 2017,” said Mr Murphy.
The President’s speech is a calculated intervention in the deliberations of the UN Human Rights Council’s 45th Session this week, where a resolution in response to the June 30 Report on the Philippines by High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet is being considered.
“We urge the Member States of the UN Human Rights Council to authorise the High Commissioner Bachelet’s office to hold a more wide-ranging investigation on the Philippine situation, to report back to the HRC,” said Mr Murphy. “The Duterte government, if it stands by the President’s commitment to the UN principles and to multilateralism, should fully cooperate with such an initiative,” concluded Mr Murphy.