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Philippines hits UN rights chief over 'mischaracterized' report
United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein included the Philippines among 40 countries with "darker and more dangerous" human rights situations. UN/Jean-Marc Ferré
MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines' top diplomat has called out United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein over his report on the human rights situation in the Philippines.
At the 36th session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, Zeid expressed concern over President Rodrigo Duterte's perceived lack of respect for the right to due process.
In his report, Zeid included the Philippines among 40 countries with "darker and more dangerous" human rights situations.
“This lack of respect for the due process rights of all Filipinos is appalling,” Zeid said.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano accused Zeid of relying on uncorroborated information for his report before the UN council.
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"The Philippines has provided the Human Rights Council with all the facts regarding the campaign against illegal drugs in our report to the Third Cycle of the Universal Periodic Review [UPR] in May 2017," Cayetano said.
Cayetano added that the UN high commissioner's report would have been balanced and accurate if he considered the Philippine government's report during the UPR.
He stressed that Duterte's anti-drugs campaign was conducted by all means that the law allows.
"The anti-illegal drug campaign should follow approved protocols to ensure the protection of human rights, and that any erring law enforcement agent would be investigated and prosecuted to the full extent of the law," he said.
Philippine Deputy Permanent Representative Maria Teresa Almojuela, meanwhile, said that Zeid 's report was "highly-biased" and was based on "sweeping generalizations."
“Like any country, the Philippines cannot and does not assert that it manages the challenges to human rights in a perfect manner, but the Philippine government, more than any party here, seeks justice and dignity for all Filipino people," Almojuela said in a statement in response to the report.
At the 36th Human Rights Council debate, Almojuela insisted that the government investigates and prosecutes all credible allegations of human rights violations.
"The UPR has shown our openness to constructive dialogue to continue to enhance and strengthen the protection and promotion of human rights in the country,” she said.
Earlier this week, the House of Representatives approved an annual budget of P1,000 for the Commission on Human Rights, the agency mandated to check government abuses. Many who voted to slash the commission's budget claimed that the CHR should also look into abuses by criminals. Those violations are are called crimes and are the jurisdiction of law enforcement agencies.
Senators on Wednesday demonstrated a better appreciation of the CHR's budget and vowed to fight to give it at least P600 million for 2018. At least two members of the chamber — Maajority Leader Vicente Sotto III and Sen. Manny Pacquiao — have said, however, that the CHR should not criticize the government that funds it.