CHR's latest report about drug war abuses 'rehashed' — Palace

Alexis Romero - Philstar.com
CHR's latest report about drug war abuses 'rehashed' � Palace
A relative of a victim of an extra-judicial killing attends a memorial mass ahead of All Soul's Day to remember loved ones slain in the government's war on drugs, at the Commission on Human Rights in Manila on Oct. 29, 2021.
AFP / Jam Sta. Rosa

MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang on Thursday described as a "rehash of old issues" the Commission on Human Rights' (CHR) latest report on President Rodrigo Duterte's drug war even as it claimed that the outgoing administration would be leaving behind "a legacy of a safe and secure Philippines."

In a report released this week, the CHR claimed that the government has "failed in its obligation to respect and protect the human rights of every citizen" and has "encouraged a culture of impunity that shields perpetrators from being held to account."

According to the report, drug-related killings have become rampant and widespread during the administration of Duterte and that the victims targeted had actual or perceived links to illegal drugs. The victims "were killed with disproportionate and/or excessive force or in a brutal manner whether during alleged operations by law enforcers or during attacks by unidentified or private persons," the commission added.

"Contrary to the claims of self-defense, available information indicated intent to kill by the police operatives and disproportionality of force used to repel aggression—with the fatal location and number of gunshot wounds sustained by the victims," the report read.  

"There were possible violations of the rights of the drug suspects, and lapses in the observance of protocols established by law and reiterated in PNP (Philippine National Police) manuals," it added.

Acting presidential spokesman Martin Andanar said the administration has responded to the issues raised by the report.

"While we see a rehash of old issues in the report of the Commission on Human Rights that have already been responded to, we are pleased that this body has independently exercised its mandate - a testament to how the Duterte administration has allowed our democratic civic space to be enriched under his term," Andanar said in a statement.

"In contrast to what a handful of critiques would want the international community to hear and read about our country, the Duterte administration leaves a legacy of a safe and secure Philippines," he added.

Andanar claimed the foreigners who come to the country as tourists are seeing how safe the country's streets and communities are. He said the situation affirmed the more than half drop in crime rate since Duterte assumed office in 2016. The government's actions were validated by the President's high satisfaction, performance, approval and trust ratings, the Palace official added.

"Nonetheless, we ask the CHR to coordinate with the Presidential Human Rights Committee Secretariat so that its recommendations may be discussed with all the government offices it has put to task," Andanar said.

In the same report, the CHR said perpetrators are seldom brought to justice "as the climate of fear paralyzes accountability mechanisms and processes."

"In several instances, the Commission finds that families and witnesses decline to participate in any investigation in fear for their own safety and security. Some individuals have refused to be named as sources of information, scared to be identified and later be targeted by the perpetrators," the report said.

"With the support of presidential directive and other issuances, the PNP’s repeated denial of the Commission’s access to police records is indicative of the lack of transparency and impartiality in its internal processes," it added.

The CHR called on the Office of the President to revise or remove the exceptions stated in the executive order on freedom of information that have been used as a basis for the denial of CHR subpoenas requesting for documents. It also urged Malacañang to spearhead the eradication of a “culture of impunity” by directing the concerned agencies to conduct full and transparent investigations into drug-related extrajudicial killings and identify the perpetrators against whom proper charges may be filed.

The commission also called on the PNP to conduct full, immediate, thorough, transparent and impartial investigations on drug-related extrajudicial killings, particularly deaths during anti-drug operations, deaths while in custody or detention.

In one of his recent speeches, Duterte said he won't apologize for his drug war, saying he had to declare it to save the nation from narcotics syndicates.

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