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Andanar cautions UNHRC: Be prudent, objective

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Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar delivers the Philippine dignitary statement on human rights and media freedom at the 43rd Regular Session of the Human Rights Council-High-Level Segment at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, on Wednesday.

The international community should be cautious in dealing with critics and detractors that allege human rights violations against the Duterte administration.

This was part of the address of Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Martin Andanar, who delivered the Philippine statement on human rights and media freedom at the 43rd Regular Session of the Human Rights Council-High-Level Segment at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, on Wednesday.

Andanar lamented that the Duterte administration is a “victim” of arbitrary action by the council.

“We repeat the call for prudence in assessing claims particularly from sources who have enjoyed the hallowed status of human rights defenders while waging the longest insurgency in Asia and terrorizing communities in the Philippines,” Andanar said in his speech.

He said discussions on the human rights situation in the Philippines are swayed by “baseless allegations” while the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) “failed to exhaust mechanisms for constructive, reasonable, and fact-based discourse.”

“A credible Council cannot base its actions on such inscrutable claims. These claims do not hold their truth against the well-founded accountability mechanisms in the country, the tangible accomplishments of the anti-illegal drug campaign, the growing investors’ confidence in the Philippine economy, and the high level of public support for the leadership of President Rodrigo Duterte,” Andanar said.

Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar at the 43rd Regular Session of the Human Rights Council-High-Level Segment at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, on Wednesday.

In July last year, the UN human rights body voted during its 41st session to investigate alleged extrajudicial killings linked to President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs.

The resolution instigated by Iceland saw 18 countries backing the resolution and 14 opposing. Another 15 nations abstained.

The resolution alleged wide-range abuses, including killings, enforced disappearances, arbitrary arrests, and persecution of rights activists, journalists, lawyers and members of the political opposition.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teddyboy Locsin denounced the resolution as a travesty of human rights that came “straight from the mouth of the queen in Alice in Wonderland.”

Despite the resolution, Andanar said the Philippine government remains convinced in the UNHRC’s contributions to the promotion of human rights in all parts of the world, however challenged the council to “preserve its credibility” and “uphold the highest standards of objectivity and integrity.”

“Institutionalizing more rigor in assessing information should help the Council successfully navigate a milieu under the strain of politicization, polarization and—outside these halls—skepticism in multilateralism,” he said.

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