- The United Nation’s Human Rights Council approved the resolution with a vote of 18-14
- In 2016 President Rodrigo Duterte launched an extremely violent anti-drug campaign
- U.N. human rights chief Michelle Bachlet will be turning in a comprehensive report on the Philippines war on drugs in one year
The United Nation’s Human Rights Council voted 18-14 — with 15 abstentions — to approve a resolution on Thursday that calls for high scrutiny in regards to the Philippine government’s war on drugs that has claimed the lives of thousands.
President Rodrigo Duterte’s Violent Anti-Drug Campaign
President Rodrigo Duterte launched the anti-drug campaign in mid-2016. The resolution requires U.N. human rights chief, Michelle Bachelet to report on the situation in the Philippines in one year. The Philippine government has acknowledged at least 6,600 people have been killed during the anti-drug campaign, but human rights activists claim the number is much higher.
According to Human Rights Watch, the real number could be higher than 20,000. According to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PFDEA), 4,948 drug users and drug dealers died during police operations from July 1, 2016, to September 30, 2018. The exact number of deaths resulting from the anti-drug campaign is beyond difficult to ascertain due to extrajudicial killings encouraged by Duterte and incomplete statistics the government stopped releasing all together.
According to the Philippine National Police (PNP), 22,983 deaths have occurred during the country’s war on drugs. These deaths are not included in the official statistics and instead labeled as killed by unknown gunmen. The government has claimed these masked gunmen are vigilantes or rival gangs taking justice into their own hands but the gunmen appear to work closely with the government. Duterte has vowed to continue the war on drugs until his term ends in 2022 and to protect the police officers involved from prosecution. With the exception of a few high-profile killings, these shootings do not get investigated.
Just last week, Philippine Senator Ronald dela Rosa said “shit happens” after a 3-year-old girl named Myka Upina was killed by police gunfire during a drug raid. Rosa is the former police chief responsible for running Duterte’s deadly war on drugs. Upina’s father Renato also died in the raid. Police accused the father of using the young girl as a human shield, but many doubt that narrative. An undercover officer involved in the sting was also killed. The death of Myka is just the latest horrifying incident in the last few years of Duterte’s war on drugs. Over the years, both human rights groups and the Philippines Catholic Church have accused him of widespread abuse.
Philippine foreign minister, Teodoro Locsin has denounced the U.N. resolution. Surprisingly, Locsin called the resolution a violation of human rights that came “straight from the mouth of the queen in Alice in Wonderland.” The resolution is just a few steps short of being a full-fledged commission of inquiry. After Bachlet turns in her comprehensive report in one year it could bring tougher follow-up action if abuse of power is found and continues.
Do not presume to threaten states with accountability for a tough approach to crushing crime.Philippine Foreign Minister Teodoro Locsin Via New York Times
Locsin was not the only government official from the Philippines that denounced the resolution. Philippine ambassador to the U.N., Evan Garcia after the vote said the Duterte administration is committed to upholding justice.
We will not tolerate any form of disrespect or acts of bad faith. There will be consequences.Philippine Anbassador To The U.N. Evan Garcia Via DW