EU Parliament urges PH to stop drug-related killings

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The European Parliament estimates around 12,000 people, including women and children, have reportedly been killed in anti-illegal drug operations since July 1, 2016.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 20) The European Parliament on Thursday called on the Philippine government to stop the spate of extrajudicial killings in the pretext of a "war on drugs" and expressed concern that the police force is "falsifying evidence" to justify them.

In the joint resolution dated April 18, the European Union's law-making assembly also called for the release of detained Senator and staunch Duterte critic Leila de Lima, and for cooperation with United Nations' Special Procedures on the investigation of the drug war.

The EU Parliament is made up of 751 directly-elected members, called MEPs (Members of the European Parliament) from 28 Member States.

The resolution added it "strongly regrets" the Philippines' decision to withdraw from the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, and asks the country to revert it. It also sought to remove human rights defenders from the Philippines' terrorist list, as in the case of UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Victoria Tauli-Corpuz.

The EU Parliament's resolution then asked the European Commission and the External Action Service to "initiate procedural steps which could lead to the temporary withdrawal" of GSP+ preferences which are trade incentives EU's General Scheme of Preferences for developing countries.

The EU is planning to donate ₱10.6 billion for more development projects in the Philippines until 2020.

This is the third joint motion for resolution issued by the EU parliament on the country's drug war since President Rodrigo Duterte took office in June 2016. While government data show 4,075 drug suspects were killed in law enforcement operations, the EU has pegged the number at 12,000, including deaths of women and children.

On May 2017, Duterte said it would no longer accept EU aid, as he claimed it comes with conditions on human rights and rule of law for the Philippines.

The Philippines also rejected €6.1 million (₱382.45 million) in aid from the international body in December 2017.

Cayetano: EU Parliament crossed the line

Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said the EU Parliament's recent resolution already constitutes interference in the Philippines' internal affiars,describing their demands "unwarranted and uncalled for actions" against the country.

"The European Parliament has crossed a red line when it called for unwarranted actions against the Philippines," Cayetano said Thursday.

He added that the parliament's resolution is based on incomplete and wrong information and does not reflect the situation on the ground.

"As a sovereign state, the Philippines expects all members of the international community to respect the country's prerogative to determine national priorities and policies that are responsive to the needs of its people," Cayetano said.

Cayetano then said that he acknowledged that the views of the EU Parliament does not reflect that of the EU. He added the Philippines will continue to give utmost importance to the promotion and protection of human rights.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the resolution came at a time when the EU gave the country more than ₱240 million in aid for its anti-illegal drug campaign.

"We thus call on the members of the European Parliament to exercise prudence in issuing resolutions. We understand a number of whom have close ties to the local political opposition who try to distort realities that we have a working democracy when people now enjoy peace and order," Roque said in a press briefing Friday.

New Philippine National Police Chief Oscar Albayalde also questioned the EU body for their data on the killings, saying that the figures are bloated.

"Hindi natin alam kung saan nila nakuha 'yung record and 'yung data nila," Albayalde said in a press briefing Friday.

[Translation: We do not know where they get their record and their data.]