President Rodrigo Duterte remains on course in preventing the country from turning into a narco state while respecting local and international laws, Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano told the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA).
“Mr. Duterte is salvaging the Philippines from becoming a narco state contrary to stories (about extrajudicial killings)being fanned by his critics,” Cayetano said in his address.
The Philippines under the leadership of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte is one with the United Nations in being uncompromising on the issues of rule of law
Speaking at the 73rd UNGA in New York, Cayetano cited Mr. Duterte’s all-out efforts to protect human rights and promotion of rule of law amid the war against illegal drugs.
“The Philippines under the leadership of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte is one with the United Nations in being uncompromising on the issues of rule of law, just and equitable peace that leads to order, development and prosperity and the protection of each and every human beings’ rights,” Cayetano said.
The country is seeking to resist turning into a state held hostage by the rich and powerful.
Cayetano noted that as a sovereign and democratic country led by a duly-elected President, the Philippines is seeking to resist turning into “a state held hostage by the rich and powerful who ignore the plight of the poor, powerless and marginalized or, worse, both.”
De Lima was tagged by convicted drug lord Jaybee Sebastian as protector of the NBP drugs trade.
The Duterte administration’s war on drugs has been the subject of criticisms by international groups, including the UN.
“We may somehow and sometimes differ in how we express ourselves, yet this should not be interpreted as turning our backs on the universal declaration on human rights,” Cayetano said.
“On the contrary, the Philippines and President Duterte are instituting reforms to be able to protect the rights of every single Filipino and human being living in the Philippines,” he added.
While the government is giving importance to human rights, Cayetano justified that most deaths in the war against illegal drugs were prompted by resistance on the part of the subjects of legitimate police operations.
“But in case, where we have to choose between protecting the rights of a law-abiding citizen and the law enforcer versus the drug lord or criminal who seeks to kill and destroy, it is clear that we will protect the former,” Cayetano said.
“The law enforcer and the law-abiding citizen. Wouldn’t you do the same? Which country, which leader wouldn’t do the same and protect your citizens and protect your law enforcers?” he asked.
The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) head also cited the rights of migrants, saying issues on migration cannot be swept from under the rug but should be discussed openly, frankly and thoroughly.
“The Global Compact on Migration is a huge step in the right direction. And this huge step will be even a bigger one if we can get everyone on board,” he said, referring to the international agreement that UN member-states will be adopting in Morocco in December.
Cayetano also called on UN members to put the interest of the global community above their national concern.
“The UN is the place, the venue for great opportunity, of putting action to our faith, of changing the world for the better,” Cayetano said.
We may somehow and sometimes differ in how we express ourselves, yet this should not be interpreted as turning our backs on the universal declaration on human rights.
“That is, of course, if we can transcend our personal and sometimes national interest for the interest of the global community or, simply put, for the greater good,” he added.
“Faith without action is dead. And the United Nations is not a place to bury our dead, it is a place to rise up, to resurrect our hopes and dreams of a better world,” he stated.
He said member-states must exert efforts to connect, to emphasize commonalities and not differences and to think more as global citizens.
“We don’t always have to act as a community but neither can we ignore the fact that there are many problems which can only be solved by a united global community,” Cayetano said.