We can’t give all drug war records due to national security issues – Duterte
MANILA, Philippines — The government cannot give rights groups full access to drug war records because of national security issues, President Rodrigo Duterte said in his taped briefing that aired Monday night.
Duterte was reacting to the presentation of Interior Secretary Eduardo Año showing data that deaths still occurred during legitimate police anti-drug operations.
This should be a lesson for the human rights sector — that deaths in the drug war may not be avoidable, he said.
“Up to now, despite our well, advice to, you know, if it’s possible to not engage in a shootout, the drug suspects fight back. Now, this is really a lesson for the human rights [groups]. Every day, until now, it’s there. I suggest that you go into the police and look into the records of these deaths,” Duterte said, speaking partly in Filipino.
“If you want to get it [records], we can’t give everything — not because we are hiding some facts that [are] known to us but unknown to you. But national security issues are part of this,” he added.
Duterte stressed that there were times that the security cluster would have sole access to the information, which even he was not even privy to — as in the case of New People’s Army (NPA) rebels who might have made ties with some individuals.
“As in the case of the NPA rebels, we have records that those who have died but who have derogatory records in our files and thy have references to people and what they do. We cannot divulge it to anybody but only to the military and the police,” Duterte said.
“I do not even know who they are. I do not ask it, and I do not bother to really go out of my way knowing, because I’m one of those people who don’t know. What I get is the result of the operations, but as to the bases and the people involved and suspects, and their references and their sources ng information, these cannot be revealed,” he added.
Duterte made his clarification after the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) lauded the Philippine National Police (PNP) and its new chief, Gen. Guillermo Eleazar, for opening some of its drug war records for scrutiny.
Eleazar allowed the Department of Justice (DOJ) to take a look at 61 drug war cases as part of its probe of the administration’s bloody campaign against illegal drugs.
The decision, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said, ended his predecessor’s reluctance to open records that made it difficult for the DOJ to do investigations.
Several groups, including those critical of the President, also praised the decision, calling it a test of Eleazar’s honesty.
Duterte’s drug war has often been criticized by rights groups, here and abroad, for allegedly encouraging extrajudicial killings in police operations.
The administration has denied this, with Guevarra vowing before the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) that a probe of the incidents was underway amid international pressure for a full-blown probe of the rights situation in the Philippines.
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