Senators and officials from the Philippine National Police attend a senate inquiry at the Philippine Senate in Pasay City, the Philippines, Aug. 22, 2016. Philippine National Police Director General Ronald de la Rosa said on Monday a total of 1,779 people have been killed in the Philippines' war on illicit drugs since July 1. (Xinhua/Rouelle Umali)
MANILA, Aug. 22 (Xinhua) -- Philippine Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay on Monday slammed UN human rights rapporteurs for criticizing Manila's war on illegal drugs, calling a report by them "highly-irresponsible."
"The Duterte administration's war on drugs, a very urgent and critical domestic matter, is being waged with firm adherence to our established human rights principles," Yasay said.
He said Duterte "has, time and again, declared his avowed purpose to pursue this war on drugs in accordance with the rule of law and full respect for human rights and has, in fact, urged civil rights organizations to immediately provide evidence of extrajudicial killings."
"Media reports may serve as their lead, but such reports do not constitute prima facie evidence of fact. It is highly irresponsible on their part to solely rely on such allegations based on 'information' from unnamed sources without proper substantiation," he said, referring to the report by Special Rapporteur for Extrajudicial, Summary and Arbitrary Executions and the Special Rapporteur for the Right to Health.
He said the rapporteurs' failure to act "in accordance with existing procedures in engaging and cooperating with member states" drew the ire of Duterte.
"The president is understandably extremely disappointed and frustrated with this action of the special rapporteurs in arbitrarily concluding that these drug-related killings were done by, or at the instance of, law enforcers," Yasay said.
Yasay also made it clear that the Philippines is not pulling out of the United Nations, saying his country is committed to the organization despite its "frustrations."
Yasay called a press briefing to clarify the statement made by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Sunday that the Philippines will "separate" from the UN after the world body criticized his war on illicit drugs.
"We certainly are not leaving the UN," Yasay told a news conference at the Department of Foreign Affairs.
But Yasay gave the assurance that Duterte "remains committed to the UN, of which the Philippines is one of the founding members, and to the purposes and objectives of which this august body stands for."
Yasay also appealed for support from the global community. "We therefore also call on the global community to support us, not to simply provide lip service in eradicating this urgent international problem towards uplifting the quality of life of the community and families and assure a bright future for their children."
He said that the Duterte administration "has enunciated a clear and firm policy in dealing decisively with the drug menace in the country."
"In a larger sense, (Duterte) is dealing with the drug menace because it is a clear violation of every citizen's right to live in peace without drug pushers and to have a drug-free country," Yasay said.
Over the weekend, Duterte slammed the UN for its continued criticism of his war on drugs, particularly the mounting number of vigilante-type killings in the country. There are nearly 1,800 people killed in the campaign, according to the police.
"Maybe we just have to separate from the United Nations. If you are that rude, we might just as well leave the organization," Duterte told a news conference in Davao City on Sunday.
Duterte's spokesman Ernesto Abella also told a separate news conference at the Malacalanang presidential palace that the Philippines is not "decoupling" from the UN.
"He is simply reiterating national sovereignty and the fact that he did not welcome interventions or what you would consider meddling. He was stating the fact that the Philippines is a sovereign nation and should not be meddled with," he said.
The spokesman said the war on drugs "are within the our ambit of national sovereignty, national concerns, and that at this stage there was no call for the UN to make any investigations."
"If there would be serious intentions about investigating these matters they should have made formal presentations and not just made general statements. The UN as a public institutions should have made formal representations because we also are a formal institution," Abella said.