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Investigate PH says ‘malice’ is with Andanar’s remarks on rights abuses report

/ 06:06 PM March 18, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — International rights watchdog Investigate PH, which is doing a probe of alleged abuses in the country, has urged Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar to read their report first before reacting.

Investigate PH coordinator Peter Murphy said Thursday that contrary to Andanar’s claim that the group is “weaponizing” the issue of human rights, the only weapons found were from state forces shooting supposedly unarmed civilians.

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“We urge the Presidential Communications Secretary to read the Initial Report and engage with the corroborated facts assembled there. The only weapons we found in our investigation were those of the police and the army shooting at unarmed civilians,” Murphy said in a statement.

“Our findings are shocking and bring into sharp question the claimed commitment by the Philippine government to protect the basic rights of the Filipino people. In particular, the state personnel who should be protecting the citizens are repressing them, and are unable to be a check on themselves,” he added.

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Investigate PH launched its report last Tuesday, which highlighted how the human rights situation under President Rodrigo Duterte worsened year after year. The report has been sent to the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in hopes that the international body would launch a probe on the issue.

READ: Rights situation in PH ‘got worse’ in past year – Investigate PH

But Andanar threw all kinds of allegations against the group, saying the report is “malicious” as it paints the country in a bad manner, which was in a way interfering in the Philippines’ domestic politics.

Andanar, head of the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO), also said that Investigate PH does not represent any credible organization and that it is only driven by a self-serving agenda.

“Investigate PH does not represent any credible global or regional institution, and its claims of any authority or credibility to report on the Philippines must be rejected,” the PCOO chief said.

“It is a group of parties that is weaponizing human rights against the Philippines, driven by a self-serving political agenda.  We call on the public to guard against giving credence to a ‘report’ by a group whose character and agenda are dubious,” he claimed.

But Murphy insisted that the malice is found in Andanar’s statements, especially as he tries to discredit leaders of worldwide religious confederations, and law and democratic organizations.

“Sadly, the malice seems to be all with Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar when his recent tweets perhaps deliberately denigrated the Commissioners of Investigate PH as having no credibility,” Murphy who also chairs the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines, said.

“The 11 Commissioners are leaders of global and national Christian church organizations, the global teachers’ trade union, the main US lawyers association and the main global lawyers association, a leading law firm in Belgium, and respected national politicians,” he added.

Some of Investigate PH’s commissioners and key officials include World Communion of Reformed Churches general secretary Rev. Dr. Chris Ferguson; Central Committee of the World Council of Churches moderator Dr. Agnes Abuom; International Association of Democratic Lawyers president Jeanne Mirer; former Australian senator Lee Rhiannon; National Lawyers Guild president Atty. Suzanne Adely; and World Council of Churches central committee member Archbishop Joris Vercammen.

During the online launch of the report Tuesday, Investigate PH commissioners gave various observations of the country’s human right status — from the government supposedly not doing anything to solve the rights abuses, the remedies being inadequate, and how the COVID-19 pandemic sprung as a chance to repress human rights defenders.

READ: Gov’t doing nothing to preserve rights, represses activists instead – Investigate PH

READ: Pandemic makes gathering data on rights abuses harder – Investigate PH

Investigate PH was formed in January 2021 after the UNHRC did not heed calls to investigate rights abuses in the Philippines. UNHRC had disappointed some sectors as it instead adopted a resolution compelling member-states to extend technical assistance to the Philippines in the conduct of its own probe on killings and other abuses.

READ: Global alliance starts probing PH’s human rights status independently

READ: UNHRC resolution: No drug war probe but support, cooperation for PH efforts on human rights

The government has created a task force looking into allegations of extrajudicial killings in the conduct of Duterte’s war against illegal drugs a major criticism hurled against the administration.

However, Investigate PH and other local groups have stressed that the country’s current systems and remedies for rights abuses are not adequate with one commissioner saying that the government has done nothing to address reports of abuses.

READ: PH government’s ‘sudden’ creation of drug panel slammed: It’s just meant to save face

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TAGS: Human rights, Investigate PH, investigation, Peter Murphy, Philippine news updates, President Rodrigo Duterte, rights abuses, Secretary Martin Andanar, UNHRC, United Nations Human Rights Commission
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