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Palace welcomes UN team’s visit

Presidential Communications Office Secretary Martin Andanar said the UN team could “come over and look into the alleged human rights concerns – a clear manifestation that this administration has nothing to hide before the international community.”  AP Photo/Bullit Marquez, file

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang welcomed yesterday reports that the United Nations would send an 18-man team to the Philippines on Sept. 28 to 29 to conduct a review of the human rights situation in the country.

However, President Duterte will be in Vietnam for a working visit on those dates. He had challenged UN representatives and other foreign critics to a debate should they come to see the situation in the country for themselves.

Presidential Communications Office Secretary Martin Andanar said the UN team could “come over and look into the alleged human rights concerns – a clear manifestation that this administration has nothing to hide before the international community.”

As this developed, Duterte told members of the police to shoot criminal suspects who would put up a fight in the hips to immobilize rather than kill them.

In most of his speeches, Duterte has been telling policemen to shoot to kill whenever their own lives were endangered in a legitimate operation.

The President also gave out commendations on Friday to the police in General Santos City for a job well done under the Philippine National Police (PNP)’s “Project Double Barrel,” the strategy of simultaneous attacks against drug lords and street level pushers in the country.

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Andanar reiterated the government’s relentless drive against illegal drugs “is a war for national survival.”

“The drug menace has permeated the length and breadth of the country, threatening to destroy the very fabric of our society. We know that widespread drug use not only leads to other crimes, it can also turn the country into a narco-sate where lawlessness prevails and can set back efforts at achieving inclusive growth,” Andanar said.

The UN team’s visit was announced amid Duterte’s constant outbursts against the international community for calling his attention to rising cases of summary executions believed to be carried out by security forces and vigilantes in the conduct of his intensified war against illegal drugs.

The President had even called UN chief Ban Ki-moon a “fool” for voicing concern over the spate of killings.

The UN experts are from the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. As one of the 164 state signatories to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), the Philippines is required to undergo regular review by the UN committee.

“Although the Philippines welcomes any UN observer and will listen to what they have to say, they should also listen to what we have to say, both in the spirit of mutual respect and out of genuine recognition of our status as a sovereign nation,” Andanar added.

No more kill, kill, kill?

In his visit to the PNP’s Camp 1Lt Vicente Alagar in Lapasan, Cagayan de Oro City on Sept. 22, the President said it was really his style to threaten criminals and that no law could prohibit him from doing so.

But he reminded the policemen that they could exercise their right to defend themselves if the person they were arresting was armed and actually pointing a gun at them.

“Actually, for me, if there is no danger to your life…you should target the hips to bring the person down, as my experience…it will make him fall…no need for you to kill,” the President said.

Duterte also asked the policemen to think of the next generation whenever they would go on operation against the illegal drug operators in the country.

“It behooves upon you…it is your duty to protect the next generation. Do not let them (destroy the children). If it (war against illegal drugs) would outlast me – I could be shot because many are angry at me – promise me now: Do not compromise the next generation. It is a very serious problem of our country,” the Chief Executive said partly in Filipino.

He added that he felt insulted whenever all the deaths since he became President were attributed to him.

“Ba’t kung magsabi itong mga buang na ito na inutusan ko kayo para talian ‘yang tao sa likod? Bakit nila i-attribute sa atin ‘yan? Tingin nila sa atin mga pulis? Baboy? (Why would these fools say I ordered you to tie a person’s hands behind his back? What do they think of our policemen? Dirty?)” Duterte asked.

More than 3,000 people have been killed in the administration’s war against illegal drugs – both in police operations and summary executions.

The number has prompted the UN, United States, European Union and other groups to remind Duterte to uphold due process and human rights.

In his visit at the Police Regional Office in Tambler in General Santos City on Friday, the President said the foreign individuals and groups criticizing his war against illegal drugs apparently could not understand him.

He said this amid the Senate testimony of Edgar Matobato, a self-confessed member of a hit squad when Duterte was still mayor of Davao City, that he would not be stupid to tell a member of the police force just to kill anybody.

The President called his foreign critics “dimwit” and at times cursed during his speech before policemen.

“…I know all of you are educated and you know the circumstances when you can kill a person, legally or the other thing would be illegal, extrajudicial or what they call as salvage,” he added.

According to Duterte, he has brought his anti-crime strategy, which worked for him in Davao City where he was mayor for 23 years, to the national scene when he was elected president.

Pat on the back

The President personally commended the team leaders of task forces that apprehended drug syndicate members with their high-powered firearms, drug paraphernalia and even bomb-making components.

Duterte also inspected an assortment of confiscated firearms ranging from small caliber handguns, rifles to machine-guns and grenade launchers after handing out the citations to police officers.

The weapons were seized from General Santos City, South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat and neighboring provinces.

On top of the medals, each awardee received P200,000 cash for their exemplary performance in the fight against illegal drugs.

Senior Insps. Reynante Pascua and Renato Monreal were awarded with a Medalya ng Kagalingan in recognition of their accomplishment in neutralizing members of a terror group, including the seizure of firearms.

Those who received the Medalya ng Kagalingan were Supt. Maximo Sebastian, Jr., Police Officer 3 Marcial Inuguitan and PO2 Jeffrey Benito for neutralizing a group engaged in the illegal drug trade.

Also awarded with a Medalya ng Kasanayan was Supt. Joefel Remodaro for his anti-terrorism accomplishment.

Duterte also awarded a meritorious medal to Supt. Joefel Siason, Chief Insps. Mary Grace Licudan, Lorenzo Hernaez III,  Giovani Ladeo and Niel Wadingan and Senior Insp. Felix Fornan.

Duterte again defended the PNP against criticisms of alleged extrajudicial killings and assured them that he would stand by them as long as they were doing their jobs. – With Giovanni Nilles

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