DFA chief tells UN: Philippines respects rule of law
The Philippine government respects the rule of law and strictly adheres to due process on its campaign against illegal drugs, Department of Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. said.
The country's top diplomat made this assurance during his address at the 71st session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York on September 24.
"The rule of law and strict adherence to due process fully governed our campaign against corruption and criminality, including the fight against illegal drugs," Yasay said.
President Rodrigo Duterte has been criticized locally and internationally for the increasing number of alleged extrajudicial killings amid his war against illegal drugs. Over 3,000 drug suspects have already been killed during the past three months since Duterte assumed office on June 30.
Yasay lamented that the government's actions to address the illicit drugs in the country have "grabbed both national headlines and international attention for all the wrong reasons."
He said the Philippine National Police is "not empowered to shoot-to-kill" individual suspected of illegal drugs as the policemen follow the rules of engagement. However, he stressed the law enforcers' right to "defend themselves when life is threatened."
"Let me repeat explicitly and unequivocally that the Philippines is committed to the rule of law and the protection of the rights of all the Filipinos," the DFA chief stressed.
"Extrajudicial killing has no place in our society and in our criminal justice system."
Yasay also assured that the Duterte administration's campaign against criminality, including the all-out war against illegal drugs, will remain strictly in accordance with the Philippine Constitution and international norms and human rights treaties and covenants that the country is party to.
He also called on the international community “to allow us to deal with our domestic challenges in order to achieve our national goals, without undue interference."
The UN, European Union, the United States and other human rights groups have raised concern over the alleged extrajudicial killings in the country. Celerina D. Monte/DMS