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Duterte proposes realigning CHR budget to buy cops body cameras

Supporters of Carl Angelo Arnaiz, a teenager who was killed in an alleged shootout with police, carries his casket during a burial ceremony in Manila, Philippines, Tuesday, Sept. 5, 2017. A government forensic team says Carl Angelo Arnaiz, who apparently was handcuffed, was tortured before he was shot five times following an attempted robbery. His death occurred during a renewed police crackdown against drugs and crimes that killed more than 80 suspects in just three days, in the bloodiest few days under Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte's war on drugs. AP Photo/Aaron Favila
MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte has suggested using the budget taken away from the Commission on Human Rights to buy body cameras for policemen as his crackdown on illegal drugs and crime faces intense public scrutiny following the successive deaths of teenagers.
 
Voting 119-32, the House of Representatives, which is dominated by allies of the president, has given the CHR a P1,000 budget for next year because of the constitutional body’s supposed failure to protect the human rights of crime victims.
 
The CHR, which has been criticizing the spate of killings tied to the Duterte administration’s anti-drug crackdown, maintains that law enforcers are the ones mandated to deal with crimes committed by private individuals. The commission also insists that it is a watchdog, monitor and educator of government and is not mandated to act on criminal complaints.
 
 
Duterte believes that buying sophisticated body cameras can address allegations that policemen are involved in abusive practices.
 
“If you do not want to return the budget to the CHR, why don’t you invest the money to buy equipment for the police, for all policemen in the Philippines?” the president said in a speech delivered in Davao City on Saturday. 
 
“It’s about 600 million, and it can buy it all – place cameras on them 24 hours a day…These are state-of-the-art and are just as big as clothing buttons,” he added.
 
Duterte said the placing of body cameras should be done without violating the privacy of government troopers.
 
“Just don’t invade the privacy of the soldiers and the policemen. But you are free to embed and place cameras on the body of the law enforcers whenever they go out to operate because the Philippines is a narco-state already,” the president said. 
 
The executive department proposed a P678 million CHR budget for 2018, lower than the P749 million outlay for this year.
 
The House of Representatives’ decision to give CHR a P1,000 budget has sparked outrage among groups who believe that it sends a warning to the critics of Duterte.
 
Some senators have warned of a possible deadlock in the passage of the P3.7-trillion national budget for next year if the House insists on giving only P1,000 to the CHR. 
 

Duterte: Gascon politicized CHR

Duterte insisted that the CHR has focused too much on the killing of teenagers and has ignored the plight of victims of crime and terrorism.  
 
“The (Commission on) Human Rights has been focusing on governments who are committing abuses and wrongdoings. Extrajudicial killing. That is one of the few things that you look into,” Duterte said.  
 
“Humans (are) suffering in Marawi, including the Moro people (but) you did not even say ‘they are unfortunate…there has to be something’ or even try to worry about what will happen to the Moro people, to Marawi, after the war. For you, it’s about teenager, teenager. Son of a b****. Everything is about politics,” he added.
 
“Why can’t you move on to other issues that are besetting this country? That’s about it? That’s how it is every time a child is killed? But that happens everywhere.”
 
Duterte mentioned the two-year-old boy in Muntinlupa who was raped and stabbed to death by his drug-intoxicated uncle.
 
“Then he had the gall to face the camera and say, ‘Because I was intoxicated with drugs.’ Son of a b****. That is how lousy the Philippines is…Tell that in front of me and I will shoot you in front of the media,” he said.
 
Duterte accused CHR Chairman Chito Gascon of politicizing the CHR, calling him a “spokesman” for the Liberal Party and the opposition who want him out of the presidency.
 
The president even asked Gascon whether he was a pedophile because of his supposed fixation with teenagers, a statement that the CHR chair described as “hurtful” and “unacceptable.”
 
 
Questions have been raised about the police’s handling of suspects after the deaths of 17-year-old Kian delos Santos, whom witnesses claimed, was executed by law enforcers in Caloocan, and 19-year old Carl Arnaiz, who was accused of robbing a taxi driver.
 
In an earlier media interview, Duterte said Gascon should have seen the P1,000 outlay coming because House members are angry over the commission’s alleged bias against government forces.
 
Duterte floated the idea of abolishing the CHR in July but later on claimed that he was just joking.
 

Duterte: Killings to continue

Duterte warned that the brutal campaign against illegal drugs would continue but clarified that the crackdown does not target innocent teenagers.
 
“Let me be very clear on this. When I was campaigning, I said that I would kill anybody who would destroy my country and would kill you if you kill the youth of the land. I am referring not to teenagers without a sin. I’m referring to the organized crime,” the president said.
 
“Hindi mahinto ‘yang patayan (The killings will not stop). Because I will tell them, the big-time, I am after for your neck or necks. There will be no compromise,” he added.
 

 

 
Duterte apologized anew for the deaths of innocent civilians and expressed support for the relief of the 1,200 members of the Caloocan City police, which has been under fire because of the killing of delos Santos and Arnaiz.  
 
“With regard to the deaths, I’m sorry. But it had to happen. I’m sorry that there are policemen who are deaf and maybe taking shabu or involved in shabu trade because the entire Caloocan police was relieved,” the president said.
 
Duterte said policemen are aware that they cannot kill people whose hands are tied as well as those who have already surrendered to them.
 
Despite the criticisms, the tough-talking president said he would not back down on his campaign against illegal drugs and crime.
 
 
“I will fulfill my promises to the Filipinos. Just because there are some people who died there, and even teenagers, it doesn’t mean to say you have to stop. We cannot stop. Otherwise, I will throw this country to the dogs,” Duterte said.
 
“Either you accept it as a fact of your life now, today or you will die of exasperation, or you can kill me if you want. Feel free to do it but I won’t hold back. I will not be remembered as the president in whose time the Philippines went to the dogs because of drugs. I can’t accept that.” — Alexis Romero
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