Palace hits HRW for ‘irresponsible’ human rights calamity claim
Malacañang on Thursday criticized an international human rights organization which came out with a report summarizing President Rodrigo Duterte’s first six months in office as a “human rights calamity.”
“The observation that the Philippines is in the midst of a ‘human rights calamity’ is thoughtless and irresponsible,” Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said in a statement.
The New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) released on Thursday morning its 124-page report holding Duterte and his men criminally liable for extrajudicial killings linked to the government’s drug war.
The report also claimed that police were directly involved in the killings perpetrated by unidentified gunmen.
Abella argued that the government’s drug war is a “war on criminality (and) not a war on humanity.”
“It is a war precisely to protect humanity from a modern-day evil. To say otherwise is to undermine society’s legitimate desire to be free from fear and to pander to the interests of the criminals,” he said.
The Presidential Spokesperson also claimed that the “planting (of) evidence to justify police action is an allegation, nothing more.”
He said such claims should be backed by solid evidence, eyewitness accounts and sworn statements.
The HRW report detailed one case where a witness was able to take a photo of the crime scene showing the victim without a gun. When the witnesses returned, a gun was already beside the body.
However, Abella insisted that “all these accusations of circumventing police procedures should be proven in a competent court and if found meritorious should result in appropriate sanctions against the perpetrators.”
“Failing these, such claims are mere hearsay,” he said.
Abella explained that recovered firearms are presented before legal proceedings and are often “traced to have been used in other crimes; most of these are loose and/or unregistered.”
He said one cannot claim a “human rights calamity when more than 1.1 million drug pushers and addicts have voluntarily submitted themselves to authorities.”
He said rehabilitation centers are already being constructed to treat drug dependents.
“Is it a human rights calamity when the sheer scope and magnitude of an emerging narco state have been exposed?” he said.
As to the criminal liability of Duterte, Abella said, “The President is constitutionally immune from suit. But he has always been forthcoming with his fellow Filipinos to encourage constructive criticism, nay dissent, in the spirit of democracy and nation-building.”
Abella criticized the HRW for recommending the suspension of foreign assistance to the Philippines.
“We would advise special interest groups to do their homework more diligently before attempting to engage in propaganda,” he said. JE/rga
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