This screengrab shows Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo.
Facebook screengrab from Presidential Communications
Palace agrees rights defender who offered Robredo 'drug war' advice should stay out
(Philstar.com) - November 12, 2019 - 4:13pm

MANILA, Philippines — The human rights researcher and advocate who offered to come to the Philippines and give Vice President Leni Robredo advice on ending the “murderous” anti-drug campaign should be barred from entering the country, Malacañang said Tuesday.

Phelim Kine, former deputy director of Human Rights Watch’s Asia division, said on Monday that he is ready to come to the Philippine to advise Robredo—who co-leads the government’s Inter-Agency Committee Against Illegal Drugs—on “how to end this murderous ‘drug war.’”

He said his first recommendation to the vice president is to “arrest [President Rodrigo] Duterte and his henchmen for inciting and instigating mass murder.”

This did not sit well with presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo, who said he does not want Kine to enter the Philippines.

"He has already reached the conclusion that this is a murderous country. Then he said arrest President Duterte," Panelo said in a mix of English and Filipino.

When asked who else should be denied entry to the Philippines, Panelo responded: “Anybody who gives a conclusion that there [have] been killings, murders without justification. They have a problem.”

The Palace usually threatens officials and investigators from the United Nations and the International Criminal Court that they will be barred from entering the Philippines if the nature of their visit is for conduction a probe into Duterte’s internationally condemned campaign against illegal drugs.  

In August 2018, the Bureau of Immigration held Gill Boehringer, an Australian law professor and human rights advocate, upon his arrival at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport. He  was told that he is on the Immigration's blacklist "for allegedly joining protest actions and fact-finding missions in the Philippines" and later deported.

In April 2018, authorities detained and then deported Party of European Socialists Secretary General Giacomo Filibeck, whom Akbayan party-list had invited to its congress in Cebu City.

Filibeck had criticized the government's anti-narcotics campaign and was part of a delegation in October 2017 that called for an investigation into the "drug war."

The Bureau of Immigration also ordered missionary nun Patricia Fox to leave the Philippines, where she had been working with the poor for nearly three decades.

President Rodrigo Duterte, who has strongly rejected criticisms of his administration's human rights record, had accused Fox of having a “shameful mouth” and of treating the Philippines like a “mattress to wipe your feet.”

Fox apparently earned the ire of hypersensitive Duterte by taking part in a fact-finding mission in April 2018 to probe reported rights abuses committed by state forces against farmers in the insurgency-plagued region of Mindanao.

She also reportedly met with farmers in Duterte’s hometown of Davao City after they were arrested on charges of possessing explosives.

RELATED: Hours before departure, Sister Fox tells Duterte to listen to the poor

Locsin: Don't worry, he can't get into Philippines

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin on Monday said Kine—whom he called as Robredo’s “retarded retinue”—will be denied entry if he tries to come to the Philippines.

“Don’t worry, he can’t get into the country. We have to spare Leni the moral moronism of those who use her,” he said on Twitter.

Kine, who is now the director of research and investigations at Physicians for Human Rights, spent 11 years at HRW—one of the international watchdogs critical of Duterte’s anti-narcotics initiative.  

During his stint at the human rights watchdog, Kine repeatedly demanded that Duterte and other senior officials involved in the campaign that has led to the deaths of thousands, mostly urban poor Filipinos, be held accountable.

At least 6,847 drug personalities have been slain in anti-narcotics operations since Duterte assumed office in mid-2016, according to government figures.

But the figure is significantly lower than the estimates of human rights watchdogs of as many as 27,000 killed. 

RELATED: Government can't 'define dead bodies away,' says HRW

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