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Human rights watchdog to Philippines: Let in international probers
“Our hope for accountability in the Philippine system is very, very low. That is why we are calling for an independent and impartial investigation by the international community such as the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC). That, I believe, is the real test if we will get to the bottom of this,” said Human Rights Watch-Asia division deputy director Phil Robertson during an interview with “The Chiefs” on OneNews last Thursday night.
AFP

Human rights watchdog to Philippines: Let in international probers

Rhodina Villanueva (The Philippine Star) - February 27, 2021 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — An international rights organization dared the Philippine government to let international probers look at drug war killings in the country after Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra admitted to the United Nations that authorities failed to follow protocols in drug cases.

“Our hope for accountability in the Philippine system is very, very low. That is why we are calling for an independent and impartial investigation by the international community such as the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC). That, I believe, is the real test if we will get to the bottom of this,” said Human Rights Watch-Asia division deputy director Phil Robertson during an interview with “The Chiefs” on OneNews last Thursday night.

“We need to create something internationally that’s got real legs. That is why we are calling for an international and impartial investigation done by rapporteurs selected by the UNHRC that will create record of what happened and create the dynamic for accountability,” he said.

Robertson also noted efforts to get the UNHRC off the government’s back but if left to domestic mechanisms, justice would elude victims due to lack of transparency.

On the other hand, the Department of Justice (DOJ) vowed to continue reviewing the government’s war on drugs.

“What we have thus far is an initial report. And we intend to continue the review of cases involving anti-illegal drug operations where deaths occurred. We intend to come out with further findings and recommendations,” DOJ Undersecretary Adrian Sugay said.

Philippine National Police (PNP) spokesman Brig. Gen. Ildebrandi Usana said a technical working group (TWG) was formed to look into Guevarra’s report. The group will probe essential issues and is expected to submit its report with recommendations on the first week of March.

Fishers’ group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) meanwhile slammed Guevarra for “grandstanding” by only reporting the failure of police to follow protocols in anti-drug operations that killed tens of thousands of accused drug addicts.

“Although we couldn’t agree more with the justice secretary that the police do not follow protocols in executing the bloody war on drugs, Mr. Guevarra has failed to mention that the justice department is all but an enabler of the widely criticized war, as it failed to hold the abusive authorities to account,” said Pamalakaya chairman Fernando Hicap.

“Guevarra’s report to the UNHRC was nothing but an attempt to absolve the justice department on the mass murder of innocent lives. He didn’t mention that the impunity has tolerated the perpetrators to trample on the rule of law and deprive ordinary Filipinos of the right to due process,” Hicap added.  –  Robertzon Ramirez, Emmanuel Tupas, Ding Cervantes

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