MANILA – The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) was “receptive” to the explanation defending the Duterte administration from allegations that it has violated press freedom and human rights in the Philippines, a Palace official claimed on Monday.
Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Martin Andanar made this statement fresh from his speaking engagement at the 43rd Session of the Human Rights Council, High Level Segment in the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland on February 26.
Andanar said he received “favorable responses” from the UN delegates, as well as the Philippine permanent mission.
He described the engagement as a “credible platform to discuss objectively the global and urgent issues on human rights, without any ulterior motives”.
“The 43rd regular session of the Human Rights Council gave me the opportunity to demonstrate how the Duterte administration continues to engage constructively with the UN system in promoting human rights, notably on the UN Secretary General’s [António Guterres] call to action on a concerted approach to constructively advance human rights through practical and actionable solutions, for meaningful results,” he said in a press briefing in Malacañang.
At the same time, he rejected claims made by human rights group National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) saying his engagement sought to paint a false picture of the situation under the Duterte administration.
He insisted that the “truth” was that the Philippines remains a free country, has a prosperous democracy, and has a functioning and independent justice system.
“We came to tell the world that human rights and fundamental freedoms are guaranteed in the Philippine constitution, and that the Duterte administration has shown, and continues to commit to, its priority of promoting and preserving human rights, safeguarding press freedom, and protecting journalists and its citizens,” he said.
Moreover, he underscored how press freedom in the Philippines is “very much alive”, and how it is the “most vibrant” in the Southeast Asian region.
“Just as these same detractors have the right to make their claims, no matter how hollow and inaccurate, the government is also well within its right to correct the falsehoods they have pervaded in the international community. The fact that these critics are able to slam the government as they do and are able to peddle their untruths, already refutes their claims that press freedom and human rights is not valued by the government,” he said.
Besides his UN engagement, Andanar said the PCOO had productive engagements with the international media, European Union (EU) parliamentarians, diplomats, think tanks, human rights experts, advocacy groups, former local officials, the Filipino communities, and other dignitaries, in other European countries.
The PCOO also held separate film showing sessions of the anti-illegal drugs documentary film it produced, “Gramo”.
In an earlier statement, the NUPL claimed the PCOO’s Europe engagement was a “ludicrous” attempt to mislead the international community.
Amid Andanar’s statement that the Duterte administration promotes press freedom, the NUPL cited how various media organizations all over the country held protest actions against Duterte’s open threats to shut down broadcast giant ABS-CBN. (IAM/sovereignph.com/PNA)