Top Philippine official to face questions at UN rights body

Top Philippine official to face questions at UN rights body

GENEVA — A top Philippine official is set to be questioned next week at the U.N. Human Rights Council on issues such as extrajudicial killings and vigilante justice alleged to be occurring in President Rodrigo Duterte’s deadly fight against illegal drugs.

The Philippines is one of 14 countries whose records are being examined in the latest session of the Universal Periodic Review, which examines issues in all 193 U.N. member states. Britain is on tap Thursday and the Philippines’ anti-drug campaign and moves to restore the death penalty are among the issues set for discussion on Monday.

Menardo Guevarra, a senior deputy executive secretary in Duterte’s office, is leading the delegation. Also participating is senator and staunch Duterte supporter Alan Peter Cayetano, who told reporters “our strategy is simple: The facts being said about the campaign against drugs are wrong.”

Human Rights Watch on Thursday called on the U.N. to denounce the Philippines’ “war on drugs” that it said has left more than 7,000 suspected drug dealers and users dead since Duterte took office on June 30 and to urge the country to support an international investigation into the killings.

“The UN review of the Philippines is critical because of the sheer magnitude of the human rights calamity since President Duterte took office last year,” said Phelim Kine, Human Rights Watch’s deputy Asia director. “Duterte’s ‘war on drugs’ has been nothing less than a murderous war on the poor.”

Amnesty International Philippines says the review should highlight persisting problems, including the high number of extrajudicial executions and moves to reinstate the death penalty.

The government is also releasing new data in an attempt to refute death tolls ranging from more than 7,000 to 9,000 cited by human rights groups and the media that were based on previous numbers released by police.

Numbers released by the presidential palace, the Philippine National Police and other government agencies this week showed nearly 4,600 people have been killed in drug-related crime since July 1 and over 1.2 million drug suspects have surrendered.

The death toll includes more than 2,700 suspected drug dealers and users killed in police operations and 1,847 homicides investigated and found to be drug-related.

Police said 19.6 per cent of the country’s 9,432 recorded homicides from July 1 to March 31 were drug-related. About 20 per cent of homicides were unrelated to drugs, while the rest are still under investigation.

The higher figures released by police earlier and cited by media and human rights groups included deaths still under investigation, which officials now clarify were not all drug-related.

“The fact that the new PNP figures are inconsistent with the numbers released by the media or human rights organizations on extrajudicial executions, or even their own previous numbers, means that there may be more unreported cases, not less,” said Amnesty International Philippines head Ritz Lee Santos, III.

He said the police should “send a clear message that the state-sponsored unlawful killings of alleged offenders are never justified and are equivalent to extrajudicial executions which they should vow to end.”

The Associated Press

Canadian Press

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Crofton Fire Department members on the scene of Twin Gables fire in February of 2020. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Citizens’ group calls for action at Crofton’s Twin Gables Motel

Crofton waterfront site called an eyesore and a nuisance property

North Cowichan is looking for public input through a survey as it updates its Master Transportation Plan. (File photo)
North Cowichan looking for public input on transportation

Online survey to be held until April 22

West Shore RCMP arrested a 42-year-old man April 11 following numerous reports of someone firing a rifle in a Malahat campground. (Courtesy of West Shore RCMP)
West Shore RCMP arrest man after shots fired at Malahat campground

Police received numerous reports of a man firing a rifle outside his camper trailer

Photo collage of loved ones lost to substance use and overdose. (Photo courtesy Moms Stop The Harm)
B.C. overdose deaths still rising five years after public health emergency declared

Moms Stop the Harm calls on B.C. to provide safe supply in response to deadly illicit drug use

Restaurant patrons enjoy the weather on a patio in Vancouver, B.C., Monday, April 5, 2021. The province has restricted indoor dining at all restaurants in B.C. due to a spike in COVID-19 numbers. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C.’s COVID-19 indoor dining, drinking ban extending into May

Restaurant association says patio rules to be clarified

A grey whale off the coast of Vancouver Island is being monitored by Canadian and U.S. researchers, as it has developed lesions after being tagged last year. To try and prevent systemic infection from developing, the team administered antibiotics to the whale on March 31 and April 1. (Photo from the NOAA Fisheries website)
Grey whale off Vancouver Island develops lesions after being tagged, researchers monitor its condition

Canadian and U.S. whale experts administered antibiotics to the animal on March 31, April 1

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Sharis Carr, a nurse at the Aaron E. Henry Community Health Service Center in Clarksdale, Miss., holds a box containing doses of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine Wednesday, April 7, 2021. The U.S. is recommending a “pause” in using the single-dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine to investigate reports of potentially dangerous blood clots. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)
EXPLAINER: What’s known about COVID vaccines and rare clots

These are not typical blood clots – they’re weird in two ways

Titanic was the largest and most luxurious ship in the world. Photo provided and colourized by Jiri Ferdinand.
QUIZ: How much do you know about the world’s most famous shipwreck?

Titanic sank 109 years ago today, after hitting an iceberg

A man sustained burns to his body near this spot around 3:30 a.m. Tuesday, April 13 in Courtenay. The fire was left of the pathway. The Station youth housing facility and city public works yard are to the right of the trail. Photo by Terry Farrell
Man catches fire sleeping while outdoors in downtown Courtenay

Firefighters say man still burning when they arrived after he fell asleep next to his fire

Two men were seen removing red dresses alongside the Island Highway in Oyster Bay. (Submitted photo)
Two men filmed removing red dresses from trees on highway near Ladysmith

Activists hung the dresses to raise awareness for Vancouver Island’s Murdered/Missing Women & Girls

B.C. Premier John Horgan speaks at the B.C. legislature. (B.C. government)
Tougher COVID-19 restrictions in B.C., including travel, still ‘on the table’: Horgan

John Horgan says travel restrictions will be discussed Wednesday by the provincial cabinet

Most Read