MALACAÑANG shrugged off a call by United States lawmakers urging their President Donald Trump to call out Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte over the widespread drug-related extrajudicial killings in the country, saying that the Duterte administration is for upholding the rule of law.
Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque was referring to the statement by US Congress members Randy Hultgren and James P. McGovern, who share the chairmanship of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, which called on Trump to “impress upon President Duterte the United States’ profound concern over reported extra-judicial killings associated with the Philippine government’s war on drugs,” and that the United States should stick with championing human rights, due process, and the rule of law.
“We reiterate that our adherence to the rule of law remains as firm as ever, as is our commitment to the protection of human rights,” Roque, a former human rights lawyer, said in a statement.
Roque said the government was investigating allegations of extra-judicial killings, including homicide cases with drug-related motives, and that Congress has been undertaking a parallel probe.
“All these [investigations]are undertaken precisely to ensure that due process and the rule of law prevail despite the Philippines’ significant drug problem,” Roque added.
The American lawmakers made the call based on the Country Report on Human Rights Practices for 2016 by the US State Department.
The report said that there has been a significant increase in the number of extrajudicial killings in the Philippines, with about 7,000 suspected drug personalities killed without charges or trial.
It also cited the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, which described the killings due to the war on drugs as an appalling epidemic.
“Human rights are fundamental. Every government should afford their citizens the protection and due process of the law,” the US lawmakers said in a statement.
“The Philippines is a valuable ally of the United States and major recipient of US aid. For these reasons, it is paramount that human rights violations not be the consequences of the Philippines’ war on drugs,” they added. LLANESCA T. PANTI