BAGUIO CITY: Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Saturday called on Human Rights Watch (HRW) to stop its “hypocrisy” after the international human rights watchdog’s criticized President Rodrigo Duterte’s offer of reward money for every communist rebel killed.
In a statement, Lorenzana said that “neutralizing” the New People’s Army (NPA), as well as terrorist groups, was a “legitimate law enforcement function” and noted that the government was not “precluded” from offering rewards from any neutralization under several laws.
The HRW released last week a statement through its researcher for its Asia Division, Carlos Conde, branding Duterte’s P20,000 offer for each NPA member killed as a way of encouraging crimes in the Philippines.
Following Conde’s statement, Lorenzana lambasted the HRW for being “always… unreasonably critical of and biased” against the Armed Forces of the Philippines as well as the Philippine National Police.
“It stays silent even when the NPA goes on a killing rampage while quick to accuse Philippine law enforcement agencies of trumped up or unconfirmed violations,” he said.
Lorenzana also recalled the statement made by Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founding chairperson Jose Maria “Joma” Sison allegedly ordering the NPA to kill one soldier a day per region.
“Not a pip was heard from the HRW. When the NPA beheaded a former comrade of theirs who had just returned to the fold of the law, the HRW was silent,” he said.
Lorenzana claimed that it was “obvious” that the HRW is playing as a mouthpiece for the CPP-NPA.
“Why did the HRW not say anything when the NPA killed a father and his son—Lumad leaders who attended a Lumad Summit with the President?” he asked.
“It was after these killings of Lumads and the announcement of Mr Sison’s directive to kill one soldier or policeman per region a day that the President announced that he will pay anyone who kills an NPA terrorist P20,000, which he later upped to P25,000,” he explained.
The Defense chief, thus, urged the HRW to stop its “hypocrisy and, instead, do the right thing by acknowledging and investigating these glaring atrocities being committed by the NPA including the murder of innocent civilians, who resist their aggressive exploitation, and the deceptive recruitment of our indigenous population.”
He also insisted that soldiers will always adhere to the rule of law, by respecting each one’s human rights in any operation on the battlefield.
“Furthermore, our Defenders are under strict orders to adhere to the principles of human rights and international humanitarian law when they operate in the field,” Lorenzana said.
“They know only too well that anyone of them who is found guilty of abuse will be sanctioned accordingly,” he added.