Only 11 of 47 UNHRC members back criticism vs. PH human rights record

MANILA— The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Monday said it was not the entire United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) that criticized the human rights situation in the country but a “minority” group led by Iceland.

“Only 11 of the 38 countries that allegedly signed the joint statement delivered by Iceland are members of the 47-member Council,” it said in a statement sent through DFA Assistant Secretary Elmer Cato.

“This is contrary to erroneous reports that all members of the Council aligned themselves with the Iceland-led criticism of the Philippines,” it added.

The agency also noted it was the European country and several other states that Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano called out, not the Council.

Philippine Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva Evan Garcia said the criticism “was led by Iceland and by the United Kingdom, Australia, and Finland in their respective national capacities.”

It was delivered during a general debate at the 38th Session of the Human Rights Council last June 19 in Geneva, Switzerland.

In the country’s reply obtained by the Philippine News Agency (PNA), Garcia said Manila has responded “to most of the concerns raised” in the Council’s previous sessions.

Garcia said the country even conducted briefings and “engaged bilaterally with these delegations,” in particular, Cayetano invited Iceland’s foreign minister to Manila.

“We regret that instead of using these events as opportunities to engage constructively, these parties instead have continued to rely on biased, if not questionable, sources of information,” he said.

Garcia defended the campaign against illegal drugs before the Council, saying it is conducted in accordance with the rule of law.

“We also have a comprehensive approach against illegal drugs, from supply and demand reduction to harm reduction programs,” he added.

The envoy claimed that these efforts are “bearing fruits” in terms of the increased number of destroyed illegal drugs laboratories, the arrest of some 143,335 drug personalities, and the rehabilitation of at least 368,054 drug addicts.

“Any deaths resulting from law enforcement operations are investigated and transgressors are sanctioned,” he pointed out.

Meanwhile, he noted that at least 49,034 criminal cases against drug personalities were filed before the court.

“Of those cases and only for the first quarter this year alone, 6,330 were already resolved.” Joyce Ann  Rocamora/