Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 9) — The government is observing due process in its war on drugs, Malacañang said Tuesday in response to several UN member states' call for the country to investigate alleged extrajudicial killings.
An overwhelming 45 out of 47 states participating in the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) had expressed concern over the spate of killings in President Rodrigo Duterte's anti-illegal drug campaign.
When asked for comment on Tuesday, Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella said the government has been doing its part.
"Everything is subjected to due process… We are investigating everything that needs to be investigated," Abella told reporters.
It was Malacañang's first official statement after the Philippine delegation's bid to defend the country's drug war at the UN review in Geneva, Switzerland.
President Duterte continues to pursue an "independent foreign policy," Abella explained. Although other countries are free to express their views and recommendations, the government will continue to pursue its "own line of action," he added.
The government is expected to decide whether to accept, reject, or put under the study the recommendations of the UNHRC after it releases its report on Wednesday. All 193 UN member states are subject to a regular review of their human rights records.
Aside from ensuring accountability in the anti-drug campaign, most countries also want the Philippines to refrain from reinstating death penalty.
'Stop the cover-up'
Abella echoed Senator Alan Peter Cayetano's statement that critics of the administration have spread alternative facts on the drug war which have been widely quoted by some local and foreign media outlets.
"Our situation has been overtaken by the media hype and the media noise… Apparently [there's a] concerted effort to create a noise that is beyond what is really there," Abella said.
Cayetano led the Philippine delegation to the UNHRC, together with Deputy Executive Secretary Menardo Guevarra. They denied the existence of state-sponsored or extrajudicial killings of drug traffickers and criminals.
But the Philippine UPR Watch, an organization of human rights groups who monitored the session in Geneva urged the government to "stop the cover-up."
"We are enraged of the Philippine government's whitewashing of the most serious violations of human rights in the country," Hustisya chairperson Evangeline Hernandez said in a statement on Monday.
Former Commission on Human Rights Chairperson Etta Rosales also called the government's claims as "hogwash."
More than 2,600 drug suspects were killed in police operations in the country's anti-drug campaign, official police data show. Almost 65,000 drug suspects have been arrested.
The government earlier dispelled as "false news" claims there are around 9,000 drug-related killings under the Duterte administration.
Ina Andolong and Anna Estanislao contributed to this report.