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CHR: We know facts from falsehoods

“We may think that this approach of doublespeak might work as they will be able to convince some that they are serious about human rights,” CHR Chairman Chito Gascon said on Friday following the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) session in Geneva, Switzerland. Senate PRIB/Joseph Vidal, File

MANILA, Philippines — The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) is urging the government to end its “doublespeak” on the human rights situation in the country, noting that the reality on the ground is different from what it projects to the international community.

“We may think that this approach of doublespeak might work as they will be able to convince some that they are serious about human rights,” CHR Chairman Chito Gascon said on Friday following the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) session in Geneva, Switzerland.

“But the international community, many other member-states of the UN Human Rights Council, as well as local human rights community, know better. We know fact from falsehoods,” he added.

Gascon was criticizing the decision of the Philippines not to accept 154 recommendations of other UN member-states, including a condition-less visit for UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial killings Agnes Callamard and a thorough investigation of the deaths in connection with the war on drugs.

“They are actually denying that there are extrajudicial killings occurring in the country. They are further denying that there is a culture of impunity,” said Gascon.

“That is not reflected by the reality on the ground. Many human rights defenders, victims of human rights violations suffer threats and intimidation on a regular basis,” he added.

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The CHR chief noted various instances of doublespeak on the part of the administration, including President Duterte’s extending invitation for the UN to establish local human rights offices in the country.

“Yet I say it’s doublespeak because they have an opportunity today to actually extend what are referred to as standing invitations… for special rapporteurs to come anytime they want,” said Gascon.

He also noted an earlier commitment of the police to cooperate with the CHR, only for Duterte to disallow the release of case folders of deaths connected with the campaign against illegal drugs.

“To say that it is doing something about these extrajudicial killings by saying that the entire police force in Caloocan City had been sacked to allow for investigation, unfortunately, is doublespeak because that same police force they have awarded for outstanding performance just before they sacked them,” said Gascon.

“They continue to say that the abuses are isolated cases. This is a rejection of the truth on the ground,” added the CHR chief.

Human rights group Karapatan, through its secretary-general Cristina Palabay, also lashed out at the Duterte administration’s glossing over its alarming human rights record.

“Rhetoric cannot compensate for the rising death toll, the swelling protests, the rage of the oppressed and repressed people who have been deprived of their basic human rights. The people’s actions and protests expose this revolting circus of lies and remain as proof that the human rights situation in the country is not a ‘victory,’” she said.

“Human rights violations committed with impunity is the order of the day in the Philippines,” Palabay added. – Janvic Mateo, Rhodina Villanueva

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