Sotto, Lacson downplay UN human rights vote | Malaya Business Insight

Nonato, V. (2019, July 15). Sotto, Lacson downplay UN human rights vote. Malaya Business Insight. Retrieved July 15, 2019 from

Sotto, Lacson downplay UN human rights vote
BY VINCE NONATO – July 15, 2019

SENATE President Vicente Sotto III and Sen. Panfilo Lacson downplayed pressure on the Philippines to address its human rights situation, citing the number of abstentions during a vote last week at the United Nations Human Rights Council on an Iceland-sponsored resolution.

United Nations rules commonly require the concurrence of only a majority of voting members, not all members. Abstaining members are considered not to have voted under the UN Rules of Procedure.
The UN HR on Thursday voted to set up an investigation into mass killings linked to President Duterte’s war against the illegal drugs trade. The first-ever resolution on the Philippines, led by Iceland, was adopted by a vote of 18 countries in favor and 14 against, including China, with 15 abstentions, including Japan.

Government says police have killed about 6,600 people in shootouts with suspected drug dealers
since Duterte was elected in 2016 while rights groups say the toll is at least 27,000.

Duterte on Friday downplayed the resolution, saying Iceland is a nation made entirely of ice, with no understanding of the Philippines’ problems.

Sotto, in a post on Twitter on Saturday evening, harped on the fact that a plurality, but not a majority, of the UN HRC’s 47 members voted in favor of the resolution requesting the Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet to prepare a report on the Philippines’ human rights situation.

“In any parliament, 18 in favor, 15 against [sic] and 15 abstentions means the motion is lost! Paanong approved yun[g] Iceland reso (How was the Iceland resolution approved)?” Sotto said.

Sotto’s post, which tagged the account of Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr., erroneously stated the number of countries that voted against the resolution as 15, instead of 14.

Similarly, Lacson, in an interview with radio station dzBB yesterday, said: “Hindi ganoon kalakas ang pressure at napapakita naman natin na kaya natin i-manage ang anumang abuso na nangyayari (The pressure is not that strong and we are able to show we can manage any abuse that takes place).”

“Siguro, mas malakas ang pressure sa atin at maaari tayo ay magbigay kung overwhelmingly adopted ang resolution na inihain ng Iceland (Perhaps, the pressure on us would have been stronger and we could give in had the resolution filed by Iceland been overwhelmingly adopted),” he said.

Sotto sought to discredit the vote by diverting attention to the issue of abortion permitted in the countries that were concerned about the killing of suspected criminals in the Philippines.

Lacson, on the other hand, said the UN HCR vote could not just be brushed aside because it was still a “democratic vote.”

Yet, he said allowing Bachelet’s office to conduct an investigation would be “parang sampal naman sa atin (like a slap in our faces).”

“Dapat nating alalahanin na meron tayong national dignity na mas mahalaga sa atin more than anything else (We should keep in our minds that we have national dignity that is more important to us more than anything else),” he said.

Still, Lacson agreed with the observation that the Philippines has applied “double standards” in invoking its sovereignty in resisting scrutiny of its human rights record while dismissing its own claim to its exclusive economic zone after a Chinese vessel rammed a Filipino fishing boat last month.

“In some ways, more ways than one, mukhang double standard nga kasi importante sa atin ang issue ng sovereign rights. National dignity din ang involved doon eh (There seems to be a double standard because the issue of sovereign rights is important to us. It also involves national dignity),” he said.

Sotto and Lacson’s remarks followed those of Senators Richard Gordon and Imee Marcos who have objected to the UN HRC vote.

Gordon on Saturday insisted the government is functioning and can solve the issues on its own.

Marcos, daughter of dictator Ferdinand Marcos, also on Saturday urged government “to cut diplomatic ties with Iceland ASAP.”

Positive reactions came from Senate minority leader Franklin Drilon and detained Sen. Leila de Lima of the opposition bloc.

Category: National | Malaya Business Insight

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