A day after saying that the human rights group is just politicizing the issue based on wrong information, presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo yesterday painted a different picture of Duterte, one who has a heart for the people and regards human rights as key.
Palace on AI report: Duterte respects human rights
Christina Mendez (The Philippine Star) - July 10, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — President Duterte and his administration respect human rights, contrary to claims of Amnesty International (AI), which has expressed alarm over the killings of drug suspects in the country, according to Malacañang.

A day after saying that the human rights group is just politicizing the issue based on wrong information, presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo yesterday painted a different picture of Duterte, one who has a heart for the people and regards human rights as key.

“The Duterte administration has high regard for human rights,” Panelo insisted.

He added that the Philippines has actually been elected as member to the United Nations Human Rights Council, which showed that the majority of voting countries credit the Philippines for its sound policies on human rights and the implementation of humanitarian law.

“Lest we forget that the Philippines, under President Duterte’s leadership, has been elected to the UN Human Rights Council with 165 out of 192 votes at the UN General Assembly, thus showing the increasing recognition of the international community of our policies concerning human rights and humanitarian law,” Panelo said.

Panelo repeated his statement that AI is “biased” against the Duterte administration.

“The biased Amnesty International is once again politicizing the drug-related deaths with utter disregard of the facts and circumstances by calling on the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) to investigate the campaign against illegal drugs,” he said.

He then reiterated his call to the members of the international community to get their facts straight, adding that the drug-related deaths are neither state-initiated nor sponsored.

Panelo expressed belief that the international groups may “have been misinformed by false news, untruthful accounts and propaganda about the President’s war against illegal drugs.”

He echoed the President’s line that the drug-related deaths are results of legitimate police operations “wherein the subjects violently resist arrest and in turn endanger the lives of law enforcers who merely act in self-defense, which is sanctioned by law.”?“Furthermore, Filipinos have also shown their unwavering support and trust for the President with survey results showing satisfaction with the government’s campaign against illegal drugs,” he said.

Panelo also referred to the latest Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey wherein Duterte received the highest net satisfaction rating of +68 or 81 percent from the previous 79 percent.

“We reiterate that no one is above the law in our country,” Panelo said.

Panelo assured the public that police officers who abuse their authority are penalized under the present administration and face the corresponding punishment of their unlawful actions. 

‘Politicizing drug war’

Philippine National  Police (PNP) chief Gen. Oscar Albayalde said AI is politicizing the government’s war on illegal drugs.

According to Albayalde, AI is apparently looking for loopholes to portray the drug war in a negative manner.

“This could be a political issue where they look for such police operation in one place because they are trying to pinpoint a place where there were killings in police operations,” he told reporters at a press conference in Camp Crame, Quezon City.

Albayalde said they are letting the executive department deal with the rights group’s assessment of the anti-drug campaign, adding matters involving diplomatic policy should be handled by higher authorities.

AI should also look at the “positive side” of the government’s war on illegal drugs instead of just focusing on the casualties, Albayalde said.

He urged the rights group and other critics to look at other aspects of the anti-illegal drug campaign.

At least 6,600 suspected drug pushers and users have been killed in alleged shootouts with policemen, but Albayalde pointed out the figure is small compared to the 240,565 drug personalities arrested since the President launched his crackdown on illegal drugs in July 2016.

He added that AI did not take into account their internal cleansing measures which have so far resulted in the dismissal of some 2,400 police scalawags for various grave offenses, including involvement in illegal drugs.

Albayalde scored the group for its assessment that extrajudicial killings related to the government’s drug war remain rampant.

Bulacan Gov. Daniel Fernando has expressed confidence in the capability of police units in the province to continue to uphold the law in conducting the anti-drug campaign.

Fernando was reacting to AI’s recent report that branded Bulacan as the country’s killing fields based on the high number of fatalities in police anti-drug operations.

The governor, however, pointed out that they are watching closely the anti-drug and anti-criminality activities of the Bulacan PNP and said that the provincial government is very strict with abusive policemen and corrupt cops and sees to it that human rights are not violated.

“Carry out their duties properly and we can work together properly,” Fernando said in Filipino.

He added that the high incidences of drug problem and criminality in Bulacan could be attributed to its accommodating informal settlers from Metro Manila. – With Emmanuel Tupas, Ramon Efren Lazaro

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