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By Prince Golez

There may be “isolated” violations of human rights committed in President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque admitted Wednesday.

But, Roque, a human rights lawyer before becoming a lawmaker, said victims have access to judicial remedies for human rights abuses.

“There may be violations—isolated violations of human rights,” the Palace official said in an interview with The Source.

“But what is important is under human rights law, we have to give victims adequate domestic remedy which we have in the form of the Department of Justice National Prosecution Service, the local courts and Commission on Human Rights; and we have even recently created an inter-agency committee to look into alleged cases of illegal killings,” he added.

In defense of the government’s anti-drug campaign, Roque asserted that there is no legal principle under international law that prohibits countries from countering terrorism and illegal drugs.

“It is a valid sovereign act; it is in fact an act which forms part of the international program of the international community even in the UN (United Nations) system,” according to him.

“We have UN Anti-Drugs Office based in Vienna, Austria which shows that it is in fact an obligation of the state to protect its people from the scourge of illegal drugs and the President therefore will continue with even more passion in the last two years this war on drugs criticisms notwithstanding,” he also said.

In his first UN General Assembly speech early today, Duterte said the Philippines will continue to protect the human rights of its people from the scourge of illegal drugs, criminality, and terrorism.

He likewise underscored the importance of “open dialogue and constructive engagement” with the international body on human rights issues.

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