EJKs and abuse just a narrative by critics, Palace rights panel assures cops
Photo dated August 26 shows members of the Manila Police District's SWAT force patrolling the Blumentritt Market to enforce quarantine protocols amid the general community quarantine.
The STAR/Edd Gumban

EJKs and abuse just a narrative by critics, Palace rights panel assures cops

Franco Luna (Philstar.com) - December 7, 2020 - 12:01pm

MANILA, Philippines — Concerns about police officers being involved in extrajudicial killings are just part of a narrative being peddled by the political opposition, the presidential human rights office said Monday. 

Speaking before PNP personnel for its weekly flag-raising at the national headquarters in Camp Crame, Undersecretary Severo Catura, executive director of the Presidential Human Rights Committee claimed that the idea that police officers violate human rights are from a false narrative. 

Catura's pronouncements coincide with the commemoration of National Human Rights Consciousness Week in the Philippines, with the theme "Recover Better-Stand Up for Human Rights."

"The (idea of) 'human rights' being forced on us is always about extrajudicial killings, full of people who died in the anti-illegal drug campaign, or torture supposedly being done by cops...this is the narrative our enemies to make us look bad, especially those against the government," he said in Filipino.

"That isn't true. That's the narrative of critics of this administration. I don't believe that a few stubborn cops define the entire institution." 

RELATED: At least 122 children killed in government’s drug war — report

The Presidential Human Rights Committee, a bureau of the Office of the President, is primarily an advisory body to the president in addressing human rights concerns. To recall, it was also Catura who led the Philippine delegation to the 41st session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland in 2019. 

Palace exec names rights groups 'spreading fake narrative'

In his speech, the human rights undersecretary named local human rights monitors Karapatan, iDefend, and Rural Missionaries of the Philippines as among the groups spreading a fake narrative abroad.

The three groups have also been red-tagged by administration execs in the past, or accused of being armed rebels trying to take down the government

Catura added that these narratives "gave birth" to the United Nations Human Rights Council resolution calling for a review of the rights situation the Philippines. 

According to rights monitors, security forces enjoy "near impunity" in killings related to the government's "war on drugs".

A Department of Justice-led review of anti-narcotics operations that have led to the deaths of "drug personalities" is underway and Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said the results of that review will be out this month.

ON INTERASKYON: ‘Near impunity’ for drug war killings in Philippines, UN report says

'PNP is here to serve the government' 

The presidential human rights chief claimed that the Duterte administration's infrastructure and education work are enough proof that it respects the human rights of Filipinos. 

He pointed to other countries, particularly the United States, whose Black Lives Matter movement, according to Catura, was a "result of its lack of consciousness in human rights." 

"If the call is for us to stand up for human rights, we've already done that. What even is the value of this [commemoration]? Our government has already put in place mechanisms to ensure the recovery of human rights. But what we do doesn't come out in the media," he said. 

"The government is the top-most human rights defender. You (human rights groups) are just pretenders...human rights, for me, is giving protection from violence caused by illegal drugs and corruption." 

READ: Duterte officials hold drug suspects, criminals not human

Catura also wrongly claimed that it was the PNP's and PHRC's mandate to defend the government. 

The PNP's own official website reads: "The PNP shall enforce the law, prevent and control crimes, maintain peace and order, and ensure public safety and internal security with the active support of the community."

"There is equal treatment during the lockdown. It doesn't matter if you're rich or poor, nobody is exempted from quarantine rules. That is a human rights principle, equality and non-discrimination," Catura also said, speaking at an agency whose chief has been "cleared" by President Duterte of quarantine violations at a birthday gathering during the Luzon-wide lockdown earlier in the year.

READ: 'By the book': A look at quarantine incidents and police operational procedures

"And then, of course, there's accountability of government."

Duterte: I don't care about human rights 

During a speech last week at an event celebrating the destruction of P7 billion worth of narcotics, Duterte stated plainly: "I don't care about human rights."

"All addicts have guns. If there's even a hint of wrongdoing, any overt act, even if you don't see a gun, just go ahead and shoot him," he said in Filipino, addressing enforcers of the law.

"The game is killing...I say to the human rights, I don't give a shit with you. My order is still the same."

Los Baños, Laguna Mayor Caesar Perez was shot dead inside the municipal hall by an unknown gunman last week. 

He was earlier included among local chief executives in the president's publicly-released "narco-list," many of whom have also been murdered. 

Police figures acknowledge around 8,000 "drug personalities" slain in official operations where police claim that only suspects who fought back were killed, though rights groups say the number may be as high as 30,000 deaths since Duterte's "war" began in 2016. 

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