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Sunday, August 25, 2019
CEBU

PNP: UNHRC can’t get war on drugs records

THE Philippine National Police (PNP) will give its records on the deaths caused by its war on drugs to the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) if there is an approval from President Rodrigo Duterte.

Eighteen members of the UNHRC voted for Iceland’s resolution which urged UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet to prepare a comprehensive report on the Philippines’ human rights condition amid the conduct of PNP’s anti-narcotics campaign that has led to the killing of thousands of alleged drug suspects.

P/Lt. Gen. Archie Francisco Gamboa, deputy general for operations, said the UNHRC’s move is political in nature. The decision to answer the issue is up to the National Government, he added.

“We did not say we are not prepared (to give the documents). But why should we give it to you (UNHRC)? We are capable of reaching a solution. Go to our regular courts if you want to complain,” he said in a mix of Cebuano and English.

Gamboa questioned the UNHRC’s move to investigate the Philippines, saying the National Government is still functioning.

The United Nations, he said, should only interfere in a country where chaos and lawlessness have descended.

According to the United Nations’ website, the UNHRC—composed of 47 member-nations elected yearly during general assembly—is “responsible for promoting universal respect for the protection of all human rights and fundamental freedoms for all, without distinction of any kind and in a fair and equal manner.” It also mandates to “address situations of violations of human rights, including gross and systematic violations.”

The Philippines, a member of the UNHRC until 2021, has the obligation to promote and protect human rights.

The countries that voted to check the Philippines’ human rights condition are Iceland, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Fiji, Italy, Mexico, Peru, Slovakia, Spain, Ukraine, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and Uruguay.

Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said it would be up to the President to decide whether the government should withdraw from the UNHRC.

“The Philippine Government has acknowledged at least 6,600 killings at the hands of the police. Evidence points to many thousands more killed by unknown armed persons with likely links to the police,” so goes the report of Amnesty International, a London-based non-governmental organization focused on human rights.

Nicholas Bequelin, Amnesty International’s regional director for East and Southeast Asia, said: “It is time for the United Nations, starting with its Human Rights Council, to act decisively to hold President Duterte and his government accountable.”

In Central Visayas, small-time pushers and law enforcers tied to drug personalities have been killed. According to SunStar Cebu’s archives, at least 26 retired and active police officers were either killed during police operations or by unidentified assassins from November 2016 until June 2019.

The new chief of the Cebu City Police Office (CCPO), P/Col. Gemma Vinluan, said there were times that drug suspects were killed during anti-narcotics operations when they engaged law enforcers in a shootout.

The operatives, she said, were just defending themselves, and the deaths must not be labeled as extra-judicial killings.

However, the police official reminded her personnel to respect the drug suspects’ rights.

The bill of rights of the 1987 Constitution states: “No person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law, nor shall any person be denied the equal protection of the laws.”

Vinluan plans to train her personnel on how to avoid being wounded during operations when drug personalities show resistance.

The CCPO director described the drug situation in the city as “alarming.”

“Just imagine, during my first two days in CCPO, we were already able to confiscate P3.7 million worth of illegal drugs in the city. That is very alarming. Alarming in the sense, that there are still more drugs out there,” she said.

She believes the illegal drug supply in the city is still abundant. She urged the Cebuanos to report drug personalities to the CCPO’s “Itug-an ni CD (Tell it to City Director),” a program started by her predecessor and now Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office general manager Royina Garma. (from AYB of SuperBalita Cebu/KAL, WBS)


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