Karapatan: Cayetano, Roque whitewashing rights situation in Philippines

Karapatan: Cayetano, Roque whitewashing rights situation in Philippines
Cayetano and Roque have said the European Parliament is interfering in Philippine domestic issues through its resolution
Composite photo: Joey Dalumpines, Presidential Photo / Joven Cagande

MANILA, Philippines —Human rights group Karapatan on Sunday criticized Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano and Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque for what it said was an attempt to whitewash the human rights situation in the Philippines in response to a resolution by the European Parliament.

Karapatan said Cayetano and Roque [are] “conveniently and incessantly invoking national sovereignty whenever it is besieged with solid facts and truth on the human rights situation in the Philippines.”

Karapatan made the statement after the two officials called out the legislative body of the European Union for adopting a resolution critical of the human rights situation in the country.

The group said the two officials are trying to justify rights violations under President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration.

Late Thursday, the European Parliament adopted a resolution condemning threats, harassment, intimidation and violence against human rights defenders, journalists and activists.

The resolution also declared oppositon to all forms of violence against women, including Duterte’s demeaning and misogynist statements about women guerrillas. The European Parliament also criticized the Philippine National Police for allegedly falsifying evidence to justify extrajudicial killings.

In its resolution, the EU parliament also appealed to the government to end extrajudicial killings linked to the bloody campaign against illegal drugs. The government has denied that extrajudicial killings are a state policy and has insisted that those killed in anti-drug operations had died in shootouts with police. Other deaths have been blamed on vigilantes and on drug syndicates.

The parliament also called on the Philippine government to remove human rights defenders, including United Nations Special Rapporteur Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, from a list of supposed communists that it is asking a Manila court to declare as terrorists and release Sen. Leila De Lima, who has been held on drug charges that she says are motivated by politics and for which she has yet to be arraigned.

Karapatan: European Parliament resolution reflects Phl rights situation

Cristina Palabay, Karapatan secretary general said that “the EU Parliament resolution reflected the issues experienced by human rights defenders and activists, especially the worsening attacks of the Duterte regime on those who conduct human rights work in the Philippines.”

Roque, who at one point in his life was a human rights lawyer, however, said that the court should decide on Corpuz’s case. He said it is not for foreign lawmakers to call for her removal from the list of supposed terrorists because the country has domestic laws.

On the other hand, Cayetano said the EU parliament had “crossed a red line when it called for unwarranted actions against the Philippines.”

The Foreign Affairs chief said the European Parliament's resolution was adopted based on “biased, incomplete and even wrong information and does not reflect the true situation on the ground.”

Despite the two officials’defense, Palabay said all attempts at whitewashing the regime's crimes have failed.

Palabay said the officials “deliberately and conveniently forget” that the Philippines is bound by its commitments to international human rights. She said it is reasonable that the government’s non-compliance to the international obligations be put under scrutiny.

“Cayetano and Roque feign ignorance on the fact that the figures on the number of individuals killed in the drug war were from the Duterte government’s own 2017 accomplishment report,” Palabay said.

“They both deny the fact that Duterte himself have made several pronouncements encouraging, inciting and ordering his police to kill suspected drug addicts, when even the government’s own website and a simple Google search reveal the complicity and accountability of Duterte on these killings,” she added.

Cayetano earlier said the EU parliament's recommended actions "already constitute interference in the affairs of a sovereign state.”—Rosette Adel

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