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DFA Statement on the UN-CND Side Event in Vienna on PH Anti-Illegal Drug Campaign

 

22 March 2017

 

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) remains committed to the Philippine government’s fight against criminality and illegal drugs in the country. With this end in view, the DFA supported the official participation of the Philippines in the 60th Session of the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs (UN-CND) held on 13-17 March 2017 in Vienna, Austria led by high-level government officials from the Philippine Drugs Enforcement Agency (PDEA), the Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB), and the Philippine Permanent Mission to the UN in Vienna.

 

Alongside the 60th Session of the UN-CND, around 100 side events and numerous exhibitions were organized by non-government organizations (NGOs). On 16 March 2017, one such side event sponsored by an anti-drug network featured the video-taped remarks of Vice President Leni Robredo, who spoke on alleged drug-related extra-judicial killings in the country. This side event was not part of the official proceedings of the 60th Session of the UN-CND and did not reflect the stand of participating governments.

 

In the UN context, side events, or activities organized outside the formal program of official UN meetings, provide an opportunity for Member States, UN entities and NGOs to discuss themes in parallel to the official UN meetings or conferences where the NGOs are not involved.

 

The Philippines respects fundamental freedoms, including the right of everyone to speak freely on any topic. However, freedom of expression is a right that comes with the responsibility to ensure that facts are verified, and unfounded allegations from questionable sources are avoided. In this regard, elements in the Vice President’s side event statement need to be verified, as already earlier stated by the Presidential Spokesperson on the matter.

 

The government is investigating the veracity of allegations of drug-related extra-judicial killings, which are being undertaken precisely in strict adherence to due process and the rule of law. This was conveyed by the Philippine Permanent Mission to the UN in Vienna in a statement delivered at that same side event after the Vice President’s remarks were shown. The statement emphasized that “the Philippine Government has pursued a balanced and holistic approach to the drug issue in all its facets --- prevention, education, enforcement, rehabilitation, and reintegration. The five pillars of supply reduction, demand reduction, alternative development, civic awareness and regional and international cooperation inform the Philippines’ mission against illicit drugs.” END