Panelo blasts NY Times editorial as baseless, reckless
President Rodrigo Duterte’s chief legal counsel on Wednesday slammed as “baseless” the New York Time’s editorial that suggested that the Chief Executive must be stopped amid his brutal war on drugs.
Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo said that it should be the New York Times editorial that must be stopped.
“The New York Times editorial must be stopped from its reckless, irresponsible and baseless editorial on President Duterte,” Panelo told reporters in an interview in Malacañang.
In a scathing editorial piece on the spate of killings in the Philippines, the New York Times (NYT) editorial board on Wednesday called on the International Criminal Court (ICC) to “stop” Duterte and launch an initial investigation into summary executions amid his administration’s so-called war on drugs.
On Monday, lawyer Jude Josue Sabio, counsel of confessed hitman Edgar Matobato, filed crimes against humanity charges against t Duterte and 11 of his allies in the ICC in The Hague over the killings of suspected criminals when he was mayor of Davao City and thousands of drug suspects in his bloody war on drugs.
But Panelo said a Senate finding has found out that the alleged extrajudicial killings in the country were not state-sanctioned.
“No findings have been made by any of the investigating body that conducted probe on the alleged extrajudicial killings, in fact, there is a finding by the Philippine Senate that the so-called extrajudicial killing are not state-sponsored or state-initiated,” he said. “Therefore there is no basis in fact and in law in the editorial of the New York Times.”
In a statement, Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said Malacañang clearly disagreed on the editorial.
“We recognize the New York Times’ right to opinion, however, we have a clear disagreement with the newspaper’s April 25 editorial, “Let the World Condemn Duterte,” which was based on a complaint filed by a lawyer of a self-confessed assassin,” Abella said.
“The President was democratically elected to attack corruption and crime that have made so many Filipinos hostages to the criminals who had prospered through the rampant drug trade and other criminal activities that plagued our nation for decades,” he added.
Despite allegations that extrajudicial killings were state-sanctioned, Abella said Duterte will continue to fulfill his promises to the people.
“(Duterte’s) number one priority is therefore to save lives and to improve the lot of all of our countrymen with the cooperation of law enforcement officials, public health professionals, civil society and committed citizens,” he said.
The Palace official cited statistics, saying crime was down by 30% across the country during the first few months of the Duterte administration compared with the last months of the previous administration.
“More than eight of ten Filipinos surveyed by Pulse Asia in Metro Manila feel safer. Drug addicts are taking steps to find the help they need with more than 1.18 million addicts turning to the government for rehabilitation and other assistance,” he said.
The President, he said, was resolved to stop the illegal drug trade in the country despite global condemnation of his bloody crackdown.
“Drugs are killing people in our country and around the world. Our President is committed to stopping this cancer on our nation and to building a better life for all Filipinos,” he said.
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