Manila, Sep 21 (efe-epa).- For the first time since he took office in 2016, Philippines president Rodrigo Duterte will participate in the United Nations General Assembly, which will meet virtually this week due to restrictions to curb the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This will be the President’s first time to address the UN General Assembly, the main deliberative board of the UN where all the 193 member states are represented,” the head of presidential protocol, Robert Borje, reported Monday at a press conference.
The high-level general debate will be held between Sep. 22 and 26, a segment to which the Philippine government has sent the foreign minister in previous years.
Duterte’s participation comes as international pressure gathers to open an independent investigation into human rights abuses during his tenure, particularly in the war on drugs in which some 30,000 people have died, according to humanitarian organizations.
The Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council could pass a resolution this week calling for an “impartial investigation” in the Philippines, following a report by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michele Bachelet, in June.
The report denounces “widespread and systematic killings,” which could constitute crimes against humanity instigated by the Duterte government.
The 75-year-old Philippines leader has repeatedly described the UN as a “useless body” in the wake of criticism of his war on drugs, and has maintained that he will never let the organization’s rapporteurs or independent experts enter the country.
The International Criminal Court has also opened a “preliminary examination” on the war on drugs, which could lead to an investigation later this year on whether crimes against humanity have been committed.
The European Parliament passed a resolution last week condemning human rights violations in the Philippines and calling on the UN to conduct an independent investigation. EFE-EPA