The European Union (EU) is “satisfied” with the Philippine government’s explanation on the campaign against illegal drugs by the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte amid criticism that it is violating human rights.
Presidential Task Force on Media Security (PTFoMS) executive director, Undersecretary Joel Sy Egco, said the Philippine delegation, in a series of engagements in Brussels recently, was able to assure the EU that human rights violations are not a cause for concern in the country.
“There were some questions raised, interaction. But at the end of the meeting, satisfied naman sila (they were satisfied),” Egco said in a Palace briefing.
“At the end of the meeting, they were satisfied.”
For his part, Presidential Human Rights Committee Secretariat executive director, Undersecretary Severo Catura said the EU is now beginning to understand how necessary the aggressive crackdown on illegal drugs is in solving the country’s illegal drugs problem.
“Kaya nga isa doon sa mga ginawa ng (That’s why one of the tasks done by the) EU delegation is to explain before the chiefs of mission what are the different accountability and mechanisms of the country in addressing these problems,” Catura said.
“I would like to believe that there’s already an appreciation of what we are doing in terms of addressing the anti-illegal drugs problem in the country,” he added.
Catura noted the Philippine delegation’s “struggle” to explain the drug war since critics have been inflating the number of people killed during buy-bust operations.
However, he said the Philippine delegation was able to successfully clarify this.
“We are seeing an appreciation coming from the global community, and we see it as a very positive development,” Catura said.
“Of course, there are still interested groups who would want to pad the figures, but then again, madali lang naman ma-i-explain sa kanila at alam na nila (it’s easy to explain it to them and they know),” he added.
Catura welcomes the EU’s receptiveness to listen, saying it was a good start to changing the international community’s perception of the drug war.
“At least there’s already this large window of openness na kung saan tayo puwedeng pag-usapan iyan (where we can talk about it),” he said.
“There’s already this large window of openness.”
Meanwhile, Catura acknowledged the remark of United Nations (UN) High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet that the drug war “should not be considered a model by any country.”
Bachelet made this statement during the 40th session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland on March 6.
“(On) Madam Bachelet, the mere fact that she has been able to utter that compels us to really push for the information campaign, na dapat makarating sa kaniya (that should reach her),” Catura said.
He also emphasized that the Philippines’ election to another term in the Human Rights Council is a vote of confidence in the Duterte administration’s human rights record.
“Let’s just say that all efforts are works in progress. The mere fact that you were elected to a fifth term, speaks highly of what we are doing,” Catura said.
“Of course, we are not a perfect state. There are flaws. But then again, there are success stories that we can highlight,” he added.