• Duterte order does not confirm rights abuses – Palace


    MALACAÑANG on Sunday said President Rodrigo Duterte’s order to police and military forces not to comment on a United Nations’ human rights probe does not confirm human rights violations.

    Anakpawis party-list Rep. Ariel Casilao said in a statement on Saturday that the order only strengthens claims of abuses in the country.

    In a text message to The Manila Times, Palace spokesman Harry Roque said such statement has “no basis” since an investigation should come first before a conclusion could be made.

    “Non-cooperation extends to those who are [the]accuser, prosecutor, judge and executor at the same time. [The] investigator must investigate, not merely conclude,” Roque added.

    In his statement, Casilao said the order of the President also promotes impunity or non-accountability of state forces committing human rights violations.

    Last Tuesday, Roque announced that the Philippines is open to an investigation by the United Nations of alleged drug-related killings in the country.

    He, however, said UN special rapporteur Agnes Callamard will not be allowed to investigate the country because she already has a conclusion even if she has not started a formal investigation yet.

    In a speech, the President advised soldiers and policemen during the opening of the National SWAT Challenge in Davao City on Thursday not to entertain queries regarding the drug war.

    “I have announced before that I have your back. When it comes to human rights or any rapporteur inviting you, do not answer. Do not bother,” Duterte said.

    “Why would we be answering? Why, who are they? And who are you to interfere in the way I would run my country? You know very well that we are being swallowed by drugs,” he added.

    The Palace announcement of openness to the probe came almost a month after the International Criminal Court in The Hague said it is conducting an initial probe of alleged crimes against humanity committed by Duterte.

    Roque earlier said he is confident that the preliminary examination filed by lawyer Jude Sabio will not pan out and that the move is a “waste of time and resources” since Duterte “merely employed lawful use of force” against the threats to the State.

    The war on drugs is one of the flagships of Duterte during the election campaign in 2016, with the then-Davao City mayor initially promising to completely eradicate drugs in “three to six months” upon his assumption into office.

    The Philippine National Police (PNP) was removed from Oplan Double Barrel in October 2017 after shady drug-related deaths of teenagers Carl Angelo Arnaiz, Kian Lloyd de los Santos and Reynaldo de Guzman.

    It was brought back by Duterte two months later as a support for the lead agency, Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency.

    The drug war allegedly resulted in thousands of extrajudicial killings, causing local and international uproar from human rights advocates and concerned citizens.


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