AI report on PH’s drug war ‘false, rehashed’: Palace

Malacañang on Tuesday dismissed as “false” and “rehashed” the report of London-based human rights watchdog Amnesty International (AI) on the supposed commission of unlawful killings and human rights violations in the Philippines.

In a press statement, acting Presidential Spokesperson and Communications Secretary Martin Andanar expressed dismay that AI continues to rely on the critics’ baseless allegations against President Rodrigo Roa Duterte and his administration.

“We consider Amnesty International (AI) Report 2021-2022 as simply a cut-and-paste collection of recycled issues and arguments used by perennial detractors and critics of the Duterte Administration,” Andanar said.

This, after the AI, in its report for 2020 to 2021, claimed that extrajudicial executions and other human rights violations persist in the Philippines under the guise of Duterte’s anti-narcotics drive.

According to the AI report, the supposed lack of accountability “continued to facilitate unlawful killings and other human rights violations under the government’s ‘war on drugs campaign.’”

“Human rights, defenders, political activists and politicians were subjected to unlawful killings, arbitrary arrest and detention, and harassment,” the AI said, citing the cases of journalist Maria Ressa and “prisoner of conscience” Leila de Lima who were allegedly being “targeted” by the Duterte government.

The AI added that Duterte “continued to incite violence against people suspected of using or selling illegal drugs,” noting that the Chief Executive even called on Congress in July 2021 to “legislate for free legal assistance for members of the security forces accused of unlawful killings.”

It was referring to Duterte’s statement during his last State-of-the-Nation Address on July 26, 2021, asking lawmakers to pass a measure that would provide free legal assistance to both the military and the police personnel who are facing charges from incidents related to the performance of their official duties.

Andanar lamented that AI once again failed to verify its latest report.

“Sadly, AI’s reports are never vetted with the Philippine government if only to authenticate their information. The absence of such vetting relegates AI’s report to a mere false rehash. And that especially includes its false narratives on the current government’s anti-illegal drugs campaign and issues surrounding Maria Ressa and Senator Leila de Lima, all of which have been previously answered,” he said.

Andanar also reacted to the AI report on the Duterte administration’s alleged “mishandling” of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic, saying the claim is “far from the truth as all regions in the Philippines are presently at minimal risk case classification.”

Andanar also lectured the AI about the Philippines’ election to a fifth term in the United Nations Human Rights Council, saying it is a “recognition by this global body of the Philippine government’s faithful adherence to promoting, protecting, and fulfilling the human rights of the Filipino people.”

He urged the AI to hold talks with the Presidential Human Rights Committee Secretariat to make sure that the pressing issues in the country are “properly discussed and resolved.”

“In keeping with our commitment to remain open to multi-stakeholder engagements, we ask AI to sit down with the government to clarify whatever concerns them, valid issues or otherwise,” Andanar said.

Source: Philippines News Agency

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