Palace twits rights group for ‘falsity’ on killings of PH land rights activists
MANILA, Philippines—Malacañang on Wednesday called the international rights watchdog Global Witness a “purveyor of falsity” and a “subservient machinery for political propaganda” over its report on the high number of murdered environmental activists and land defenders in the Philippines under the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte.
According to Duterte’s spokesman and legal counsel Salvador Panelo the United Kingdom-based group “falsely and unfairly pinned the blame for the death of 113 land and environmental defenders in the Philippines on the Duterte Administration.”
“The Palace considers the UK-based group Global Witness as a purveyor of falsity and a subservient machinery for political propaganda. There is nothing new to its sham assertion which mimics the recurring chants of the usual derogators of PRRD (President Rodrigo Roa Duterte),” Panelo said in a statement.
In an 86-page report released on Tuesday, Global Witness said the toll was at least 113 since the President assumed office in mid-2016, while no fewer than 65 being killed in the three years before his rule.
The group said government had failed to protect its citizens who made a stand against coal, agribusiness, mining and tourism projects.
Panelo said the report is “a mere rehash” of what the organization stated last July 2019.
“Its original manifesto did not accomplish its mission of tainting the integrity of this Administration, thus the shameful resort to repetition. This is not news. And no wonder discerning media outfits did not even bother publishing any account about it,” he said.
“Global Witness has once again made it appear that it is the Duterte Administration which is the raison d’etre for the situation befalling these land and environmental defenders,” he added.
The Palace official claimed that “many of our local authorities, security forces, and even tribal leaders died protecting land rights against communist insurgents who want to control these areas,” prompting Duterte to undertake measures to maintain peace and order in the affected localities.
“Blaming a government with baseless conjectures for a domestic problem which it seeks to resolve flies in the face of impartial observation and circumspection, and even causes a division among its people. In this case, it is worse as it is being committed by one who is a stranger to our country’s internal affairs,” Panelo stressed. /muf
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