US raises red flag over PH human rights violations
The US Department of State has flagged several reported human rights abuses in the country, including “concerns about impunity” amid the scores of unsolved deaths of activists, judicial officials, local government leaders and journalists.
In its annual report on the state of human rights in the country, the department took note of reports that “government security agencies and their informal allies committed arbitrary or unlawful killings” in the conduct of the drug war.
But while the Philippine government has already investigated some of these reports, impunity “remains a problem” in the country, the department noted.
“Killings of activists, judicial officials, local government leaders, and journalists by government allies, antigovernment insurgents, and unknown assailants also continued,” it added.
The report illustrates that the United States was definitely familiar with the country’s worsening human rights situation under the Duterte administration.
Several local and international bodies have repeatedly called on the world’s leading superpower to condemn and to hold President Duterte accountable for these gross violations, a request that has fallen on deaf ears under the previous Trump administration.
The US state department likewise echoed the “widespread belief … that police enjoyed impunity for killings” considering the huge number of cases that remain open, and of the few convictions resulting from deaths in the drug war.
It also noted that while Philippine media continued to “remain active and able to express a wide variety of views,” it has become the target of critical and threatening comments from government officials, including Mr. Duterte himself.
“On the surface, individuals could criticize the government publicly or privately and discuss matters of general public interest,” it said. “Civil society organizations, however, stated that President Duterte’s public attacks on individuals and international bodies who criticized his policies continued to have a chilling effect on free speech and expression and that laws were increasingly misused against critics of his administration.” INQ
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