Palace hits US report on HR abuses

Helen Flores - The Philippine Star
Palace hits US report on HR abuses
Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said the US “has once again displayed how infirmed its intelligence gathering is.”
PPD, File

MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang slammed the State Department of the United States yesterday over its recent report claiming that extrajudicial killings and other human rights abuses in the country have been made “by and on behalf” of the Philippine government.

Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said the US “has once again displayed how infirmed its intelligence gathering is.”

“We consider the reports utterly devoid of bases. If at all, the reports are nothing but a rehash of old and recycled issues by the perennial detractors of the Duterte administration,” said Andanar.

President Duterte’s acting spokesman was referring to the State Department’s 2021 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices which was released last week and cited “credible reports” that members of the Philippines’ security forces committed numerous abuses.

It cited instances of supposed extrajudicial killings, forced disappearance, torture, arbitrary detention and harsh prison conditions, among others.

“To reiterate, these allegations, including violations committed by law enforcement officers in the conduct of the government’s anti-illegal drugs campaign, have all been previously addressed,” Andanar said.

He urged the US State Department to “validate reports that reach their office, triangulate the same with all other open and institutional sources and put to work its political officers in the US embassy in the Philippines who can then properly verify the same with the Philippine government.”

“Engaged verification is key in all this,” he added.

DND challenges US report

The Department of National Defense (DND) not only questioned the US government report, but challenged the veracity of what the State Department said were “credible reports that members of the security forces (of the Philippines) committed numerous abuses.”

“Since the State Department seems so sure of its facts, we challenge it to provide us with details so our Commission on Human Rights, a constitutional and independent body, can verify them and, if proven accurate, the perpetrators will be punished,” read the DND statement.

“Absent these data, the accusations are nothing but innuendos and witch hunt. At worst, the State Department has become a gullible victim of black propaganda,” it added.

The DND stressed that the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) was among the government agencies which received the highest trust rating in a recent survey of the Filipino public.

“Surely it did not earn this by abusing, torturing and killing people,” the DND said.–  Ralph Edwin Villanueva

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