By Jelly F. Musico

MANILA, Aug. 22 (PNA) — Malacanang clarified on Monday that the Philippines is not separating from the United Nations (UN), saying President Rodrigo Duterte was just basically reiterating the national sovereignty when he threatened to pull the country out of the UN.

”We are not decoupling. I said, it was a statement that he simply stating the fact that the Philippines is a sovereign nation,” Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella explained in a press briefing.

In a press conference early Sunday in Davao City, President Duterte threatened to pull the Philippines’ membership from the world body over the UN’s criticisms on the extra judicial killings that marred the Duterte administration’s intensified war against illegal drugs.

”It was a statement of sovereignty. We have to take the context within the conversation with the press. This is all the matter of explaining, as a sovereign nation, we cannot be meddled with,” Abella further explained.

The Palace official said President Duterte was just explaining to the UN that the Philippines can handle its investigation on the alleged extra judicial killings involving vigilante groups.

”Simply because we are able to handle our own investigation,” Abella replied when asked why the President considers the UN statement as meddling to the government’s efforts to solve illegal drug problem.

”In other words, he felt, he was basically reiterating the fact that these things are within our ambit of national sovereignty and national concern, and that, at this stage, there was no call for the UN to make any investigation,” he added.

Abella said if the UN intends to investigate the extra-judicial killings, “they should have made formal presentation and not just general statement.”

Abella also said the Philippines is not negating any support and aid that the UN had provided for the country when President Duterte said the UN had done nothing for the Philippines.

”We are not negating anything, we are not negating support, we are not negating aid. He was simply stating that the sovereign of a particular nation,” Abella said.

According to the police report as of Aug. 15 this year, a total of 665 drug suspects had been killed in “legitimate police operations” while 889 were killed by vigilantes.

UN special rapporteur on summary executions, Agnes Callmard, reportedly said the ‘state actors’ should be held liable for the killings amid the aggressive anti-illegal drug campaign.

The campaign against illegal drug has prompted over 600,000 drug pushers and users to surrender themselves to the authorities nationwide.

According to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) data as of 2014, the Philippines has more than three million drug dependents.

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