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Neither braggadocio nor self-serving claims of sovereign independence can hide the dismal human rights record of the Duterte administration.

Human rights violations are global concerns which transcend sovereign boundaries justifying the call of lawmakers from the European Parliament for the United Nations to lead “an independent investigation into widespread killings in the Philippines related to President Duterte’s war on drugs.” 

It is self-serving to bar an independent United Nations investigation, through the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC), on the country’s worsening state of human rights on the pretext of sovereign immunity when the Philippines is a state party to many human rights conventions obligating signatories to promote and protect human rights.

These treaties include the Convention Against Torture and other Cruel Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), and the Second Optional Protocol to the ICCPR, among others.  

It is also sheer braggadocio for Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque to dare the European Union (EU) to withdraw trade preferences under the Generalized Scheme of Preferences Plus (GSP+) on the country’s exports to the EU when the Philippines is fully aware that to enjoy the benefits it has to be compliant with certain conditions like protection of human rights.

It is also a patent evasion of an independent international inquiry to assert that “domestic institutions” like the courts, the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) are in place to “promote accountability” when the crucial issue is the escalating incidence of human rights transgressions.

The CHR has no prosecutory powers, while the DOJ is a virtual adjunct of the Presidency even as the courts have failed to resolve pending human rights cases, except for a very few.  

No less than official police records confirm that 5,526 deaths as of 2019 have resulted from extrajudicial killings (EJKs) even as local and international human rights organizations have monitored almost 30,000 deaths related to Duterte’s brutal war on drugs.

EJKs continue to be perpetrated during the pandemic.

Human Rights Defenders (HRDs) continue to be persecuted, the latest of whom are activist Randal Echanis and human rights worker Zara Alvarez, who were both summarily killed.