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Solon blasts gov’t execs for ‘irresponsible’ statement vs human rights

/ 10:34 AM March 27, 2018

Bayan Muna Partylist Representative Carlos Zarate (CDN PHOTO/CHOY ROMANO)

A lawmaker on Tuesday branded as “reckless,” dangerous,” and mere “fake news” the recent pronouncements of top government officials against human rights groups, stressing that these statements put the lives of human rights advocates in grave danger.

Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate was reacting to statements linking human rights supporters with illegal drug lords.

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Earlier, Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano accused unnamed nongovernment organizations (NGOs) of being “unwittingly used by drug lords” to discredit the Duterte administration’s bloody war on drugs.

READ: Cayetano: Rights groups being used by drug lords

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque also linked human rights organizations advocates with drug syndicates to allegedly destabilize the Duterte administration.

READ: Roque: Drug money used vs Duterte gov’t, war on narcotics

“That is a very dangerous statement. It put the lives ng ating [of our] human rights advocates in grave danger. Ang dami nang namamatay dahil lang sila’y napagkakamalan. ‘Fake news’ ang sinasabi nilang pinopondohan ng drug lords ang human rights advocates [a lot of people already died because of mistaken identity. Saying that drug lords are funding human rights advocates is ‘fake news,’” Zarate said in a statement.

“It is the responsibility of the state to protect its citizens and not to kill them. This dangerous fake news is the government’s dereliction of its duty to thousands of its constituents who were killed under its fake drug war,” he added.

Zarate lamented how human rights advocates are also included in the government’s terrorist list, while “drug lords are exonerated of their crimes and it is the poor that are being killed.”

READ: Tag Joma, UN special rapporteur, etc. as ‘terrorists,’ gov’t impels Manila court

The lawmaker also criticized Roque’s statement as “irresponsible,” pointing out however, that the government “cannot hide that thousands have already died” because of its controversial drug war.

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“Iresponsable ang statement na ‘yan ni Harry Roque, who, tragically, galing pa naman dati sa human rights community. Nagtatapon lang ng statement na wala namang ebidensya, sinisira ang buhay ng tao [The statement of Harry Roque is irresponsible. Tragically, he even came from the human rights community. He is just throwing away statements that are not supported by evidence, these destroy people’s lives],” Zarate said.

“But whatever political spin they employ, they cannot hide that thousands have already died and slaughtered, due to their fake drug war and the people are calling for accountability and a stop to this state of impunity,” he added.

Following these remarks by Cayetano and Roque, the director of New York-based Human Rights Watch Asia, Brad Adams, challenged the two officials to withdraw their statements as it could “imperil the lives of human rights advocates.”

“The statements by Philippine Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano and President Duterte’s spokesman Harry Roque that drug lords may be using human rights groups to criticize and undermine the government are shockingly dangerous and shameful,” Adams said in a statement, Monday.

READ: We’re not being used by drug lords – NY-based rights group

But Roque said they stand by their statement.

“Such scenario, we reiterate, should not be discounted given the billion-peso losses of the drug lords,” he said. /jpv

READ: Palace insists: Rights groups ‘unwitting tools of drug lords’

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TAGS: Cayetano, drug lords, duterte, Human rights, Palace, Roque
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