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Palace defends rejection of UN’s 154 human rights recommendations: That’s exercising independent foreign policy

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Malacañang on Monday (September 25) defended the Philippines’ rejection of 154 out of 257 recommendations by the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) concerning the human rights situation in the country, saying it is part of the government’s prerogative “to exercise independent foreign policy.”

Presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella said the country committed to fully accept 103 of the UNHRC’s recommendations following consultations from various stakeholders.

“What really matters is that the United Nations Human Rights Council has adopted the Philippine report recognizing the country’s human rights record and commitments under the leadership of President Duterte,” he said in a press briefing.

The Philippine government said in its September 19 response to the UNHRC that it cannot support 99 of its recommendations “given that the results of processes required to implement them are beyond the sole control of any of the branches of government.”

It maintained that the deaths that occurred in the course of the government’s anti-drug campaign are not EJKs.

“These are deaths arising from legitimate law enforcement operations or deaths that require further investigation following established rules of engagement by the country’s law enforcers,” the response said.

Among the recommendations turned down by the government were related to investigating alleged cases of extrajudicial killings (EJKs), stopping the lowering of the age of criminal liability and barring the reimposition of death penalty.

Asked if the government’s rejection of the recommendations pertaining to EJK mean it is denying such cases, Abella said: “There is no denial there. In fact, the UN has accepted what we’ve said. However, it’s just that, we maintain that there are certain parameters that need not be infringed upon.”

As proof that the country is open to having its human rights situation investigated, Abella noted that no less than Duterte invited the UN Human Rights Council to set up a satellite office in the Philippines.