Malacañang on Saturday reiterated that the government does not condone extrajudicial killings in the country, as the world commemorated International Human Rights Day.
“We do not condone the human rights violations and we are against any extrajudicial killing,” Presidential Communications Assistant Secretary Marie Banaag told government-run radio station DZRB.
President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration has earned international criticism amid its bloody war on illegal drugs. Asked about the government’s plan to address extrajudicial killings in the country, Banaag pointed to the Philippine National Police (PNP).
“Mas maganda siguro na ang PNP ang mag-comment on that kasi sila ang gagawa ng investigation [It’s better that the PNP comment on that because it will be the one to conduct an investigation],” she said.
The Palace official urged the public to focus on the “positive,” not just on reports about the hundreds killed in the drug war.
“The President is working so hard and it is not all about the drug war; it is all about a lot of things that the President is concerned about and especially so, alleviating the plight of the Filipino people,” Banaag said.
Intel-based probes urged
Amid the killings, a senior British diplomat urged Philippine officials to conduct intelligence-based probes in its so-called war on drugs.
British Minister for Asia and the Pacific Alok Sharma visited Manila last week for discussions with Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo and Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr.
In a video released by the British Embassy, the official disclosed that the meetings touched on the Philippines’ approach to the narcotics problem.
“Our view, which I expressed, is that the best way of dealing with this is through investigations which are intelligence-based with the end in view of cutting the supply of both funds and narcotics,” Sharma said.
He stressed that the rule of law is “absolutely sacrosanct” in fighting crime.
Sharma said the UK would be ready to provide support in drug rehabilitation and health care programs for the Philippines.
In his keynote speech at Royal Institution’s Global Conference on Good Governance last week, copies of which were distributed by the embassy, Sharma noted that the UK and the Philippines has had diplomatic relations for 70 years. The two nations can thus be frank with each other and talk about values and the importance of democratic accountability, human rights and the rule of law, he said.
“We will continue to hold these values at the core of our relationship with you, at the same time that we seek to engage on our economic and commercial interests,” he was quoted as saying.
Sharma lauded the Duterte administration’s initiatives to combat corruption and promote transparency in government.
“The new administration’s commitment to fight corruption and cut red tape, as set out in the government’s domestic agenda, is welcome,” Sharma said.
“And the British government is supporting work in this area by building the capacity of the Office of the Ombudsman, and working with media partners to increase public responsiveness towards corruption,” he added.
WITH MICHAEL JOE T. DELIZO