DFA to VP Leni: Freedom of expression comes with responsibility

MANILA – The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has reminded Vice President Leni Robredo that freedom of expression is a right that comes with the responsibility to ensure that facts are verified, and unfounded allegations from questionable sources are avoided.

This was DFA’s reaction to Robredo’s unverified remarks before the 60th Session of the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs (UN-CND) on March 13 to 17, 2017 in Vienna, Austria, that the Philippine government is exercising extra judicial killings and has no respect to human rights.

The six-minute video presentation of Robredo, which was played on March 16 during the UN-CND in Austria, allegedly maligned the Duterte administration by distorting facts.

On March 16, 2017, one such side event sponsored by an anti-drug network featured the video-taped remarks of Robredo, who spoke on alleged drug-related extra-judicial killings in the country.

“This side event was not part of the official proceedings of the 60th Session of the UN-CND and did not reflect the stand of participating governments,” the DFA stated.

“In the UN context, side events, or activities organized outside the formal program of official UN meetings, provide an opportunity for Member States, UN entities and NGOs to discuss themes in parallel to the official UN meetings or conferences where the NGOs are not involved,” it added.

The event led by high-level government officials from the Philippine Drugs Enforcement Agency (PDEA), the Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB), and the Philippine Permanent Mission to the UN in Vienna explained that the Philippine government remains committed to fight criminality and illegal drugs in the country.

They explained that the Philippine government is investigating the veracity of allegations of drug-related extra-judicial killings, which are being undertaken precisely in strict adherence to due process and the rule of law.

In their statement, they explained that “the Philippine Government has pursued a balanced and holistic approach to the drug issue in all its facets– prevention, education, enforcement, rehabilitation, and reintegration.

They even pointed out that “the five pillars of supply reduction, demand reduction, alternative development, civic awareness and regional and international cooperation inform the Philippines’ mission against illicit drugs.”

With this, the DFA supported the delegates position who were armed with data and statistics to the true picture on the Philippines’ war on drugs.

The DFA claimed that alongside the 60th Session of the UN-CND, around 100 side events and numerous exhibitions were organized by non-government organizations (NGOs).

According to the DFA statement, the Philippines respects fundamental freedoms, including the right of everyone to speak freely on any topic but must verify first to avoid misleading the facts and figures. PNA-northboundasia.com