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Rody to UNHRC: Set up Philippine office, join police raids

President Rodrigo Duterte, in his speech during the 60th Social Security System Founding Anniversary at the SSS Building in Quezon City on September 6, 2017, urges the workers of the agency to intensify the monitoring of contribution remittances by registered employers as it bears a lot of weight in promoting the welfare of SSS members. King Rodriguez/Presidential Photo

MANILA, Philippines — As the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) faces the prospect of a P1,000 budget, President Duterte yesterday said he is inviting the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) to set up a satellite office in the Philippines so it can monitor the anti-drug raids of the police.

Duterte, whose bloody war against illegal drugs has earned him criticisms in the country and abroad, said he would allow representatives of the UNHRC and the media to witness police operations for the sake of transparency.

“I will personally, through an official channel, invite the Human Rights Commission of the United Nations to set up a satellite office here,” he told reporters in Caloocan after visiting the wake of PO3 Junior Hilario, a policeman killed in an anti-drug operation. 

“Every operation, I will tell the station commanders, to the police, ‘Do not operate without the Human Rights Commission (of the) United Nations.’ And everybody must wear a camera,” he added.

Duterte said he is willing to provide UNHRC with an office in case the human rights body accepts his invitation.

Asked if he prefers the UNHRC to take over the task of probing drug-related killings from the CHR, the President said: “Oh yeah, kasi wala naman pera (because there’s no money).

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“That’s why I am asking for the money, so I can buy equipment that the police lacks,” he added.

The administration-dominated House of Representatives has given the CHR a P1,000 budget for next year, citing the constitutional body’s alleged failure to protect the human rights of crime victims.

The CHR, which has repeatedly condemned the killings linked to Duterte’s war on drugs, has insisted that it is not mandated to handle crimes committed by private individuals, a function that belongs to the police.

Some groups have criticized the House for giving CHR a P1,000 budget, calling it an effort to silence the critics of the administration.

Senators have warned of a possible deadlock in the passage of the P3.7-trillion national budget for 2018 if the House insists on allotting only P1,000 to the commission.

The executive department originally allotted P678 million for next year’s CHR budget, lower than the P749 million outlay for this year.

Pressed if he supports calls to restore the CHR budget, the President said: “No, the House of Representatives said they are against it. They allotted P1,000. I will tell them, just give that to the police because I will use it to buy cameras.”

“I will buy cameras so everything is transparent,” he added.

Duterte said he would also use the money to buy new vehicles and firearms to improve the performance of security forces.

The President clarified that the CHR is not being abolished even if the commission is in danger of receiving minuscule budget.

He stressed the CHR is not being abolished and that it is just on “standby” while its chief Chito Gascon is still there.

“Hindi naman ina-abolish ‘yung Human Rights Commission eh. Standby lang ‘yan.”

Duterte has chided Gascon for speaking out on alleged extrajudicial killing of teenagers suspected of involvement in the drug trade. The President even taunted the CHR chair for possibly being a pedophile, citing his supposed fixation on teenagers. “I did not say it just for fun,” Duterte said without elaborating. 

In a forum of lawyers in Manila, Duterte cursed at the CHR for “reprimanding him in public.” He demanded that the CHR ponder the plight of victims of drug addicts and criminals.

Despite mounting criticisms against policemen involved in his drug crackdown, Duterte is confident that law enforcers know how to carry out their duties.

“The problem is when the policemen are afraid again just like before. That was the state of mind of the law enforcers before I became the President. They are afraid because once cases are filed against them, they won’t have food, they won’t have anything,” he said.

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