MALACANANG slammed the Human Rights Watch (HRW) for accusing the Duterte administration of not making any “genuine efforts” to hold accountable those responsible for alleged abuses in the government’s war against illegal drugs.
In a statement on Sunday, Palace Spokesman Harry Roque said the HRW has “refused” to acknowledge the efforts of the Philippine government to take responsibility for the questionable deaths linked to the anti-drug operations of the Philippine National Police (PNP).
“HRW has a penchant for playing blind, deaf and dumb, refusing to acknowledge the efforts of the administration in addressing alleged abuses of scalawag policemen,” Roque said.
“Perhaps this HRW must be reminded that an entire police force in Caloocan was relieved because of alleged abuses, and the PDEA (Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency) was designated to be the lead agency in the government anti-drug operation,” he added.
Last week, President Rodrigo Duterte brought back the PNP to the drug war but only in support of PDEA, which would remain the lead agency in the campaign.
The Palace official was responding to a statement by HRW, through International Justice Program Associate Director Param Preet-Singh, saying that the Philippine government failed to prosecute or convict any policeman who carried out the brutal crackdown against drug personalities.
Singh issued the statement last week, noting that Duterte even committed to reinstate or pardon police officers involved in the killings of thousands of alleged drug suspects during the illegal drug operations.
With this, Roque, a former human rights lawyer, also branded the HRW’s claims as “off track.”
“The latest remarks of the Human Rights Watch (HRW) that the Philippine government has not made genuine efforts to seek accountability on alleged abuses in our anti-drug campaign are simply off track,” he said.
“Lest we forget, as much as due process governs the cases of alleged victims, the same must likewise be accorded to state agents accused of being perpetrators,” he said.
Based on the records of the PNP, some 3,800 alleged drug suspects were killed in the middle of the police’s anti-drug operations since Duterte assumed office in July 2016.
But local and international human rights groups claimed to have recorded more than 10,000 deaths from the campaign. DEMPSEY REYES