By Camille A. Aguinaldo
PHILIPPINE Permanent Representative to the United Nations (UN) Evan P. Garcia has sought to have “corrected” the number of drug-related killings in the Philippines cited by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet in her speech on the Philippines’ drug war at the 40th UN Human Rights Council session.
During the UN HRC’s interactive dialogue on Mar. 7 in Geneva, Switzerland, Mr. Garcia urged the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to correct the estimated 27,000 drug-related deaths cited by Ms. Bachelet in order to ensure the accuracy of data to be written in the UN body’s documents.
He also noted that the Philippines has coordinated with the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) to build up the country’s public health approach on its drug policies.
“The Philippines has also engaged with the UNODC and WHO on the comprehensive aspects in the campaign, particularly strengthening the public health approach. However, we must once more point out that the data used by the OHCHR on figures of alleged drug war related killings is exaggerated and not based on facts. We ask that this be corrected in accordance with the High Commissioner’s clear guidance on ensuring the thoroughness and accuracy of data in OHCHR’s documents,” Mr. Garcia said.
“We have been engaged with States and OHCHR to clarify these misguided figures and to present the government’s efforts to address reported killings under the State’s accountability mechanism and strong and independent judicial institutions,” he added.
In her speech on March 6, Ms. Bachelet said the Philippines’ approach to the illegal drugs problem “should not be considered a model by any country” due to the policy’s lack of respect to the rule of law. She also called on the Philippine government to adopt a public health approach in its drug policies.
Presidential spokesperson Salvador S. Panelo said Ms. Bachelet was misinformed about her figures, adding that the government’s official count on the number of drug-related deaths was estimated at 5,000.
Mr. Garcia also reiterated that the Philippines has been adhering to the rule of law and human rights in carrying out its policies on illegal drugs.
“Mr. President, there is great concern on my country over the social illness of illegal drugs and we remain firmly committed to the rule of law and respect for human rights as we proceed with our national development,” he said.
Aside from raising the issue on the drug war, Mr. Garcia also expressed the Philippines’ support to Ms. Bachelet’s call to address the complex challenges posed by gender and migration.