Cayetano: PH open to independent probe into drug war

POLICEMEN round up male residents in a bid to flush out drug personalities in Manila in this AFP file photo.

MANILA — The Philippines is open to independent investigations into the government’s war on drugs provided the processes are not politicized, Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano told United States (US) Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

“We made it clear that we have nothing to hide and that we are ready to work with experts or observers as long as they are independent and fair,” Cayetano said in a statement issued after his meeting with Tillerson in Washington on Wednesday.

The Philippine top diplomat informed Tillerson about Manila’s openness to receive independent observers or investigators who could take a closer look into drug issues, as it welcomes further cooperation with Washington, especially on initiatives that would address the illegal drugs problem.

“We would welcome experts if they can assure us they would not politicize the investigations because we want to make sure the outcome would be credible,” said Cayetano.

The DFA chief also clarified to Secretary Tillerson that contrary to media reports, the Philippines does not have a state policy allowing extra-judicial killings, especially of illegal drug suspects.

He expressed Manila’s appreciation for the US$2-million assistance that Washington extended to support the government campaign against illegal drugs.

The amount, which is covered under the Amendment to the Existing Letter of Agreement on Narcotics Control and Law Enforcement, is intended to support Philippine initiatives on public health and community-based interventions.

The amendment was signed by Cayetano and US Ambassador Sung Kim in Manila on September 8.

Cayetano is on an official visit to Washington, D.C. after participating in the 72nd Session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.