MANILA MalacaAang on Monday told the five senators from the United States who recently filed a resolution condemning alleged human rights violations in the country to mind their own business.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo tagged the resolution, which also called for the release of detained Sen. Leila de Lima and the dropping of charges filed against Rappler CEO Maria Ressa, as an outrageous interference with our nation's sovereignty.
The five US senators who called for the release of Sen. Leila de Lima and the dropping of charges against Rappler and Ms. Maria Ressa should mind their own business their country has enough problems and they should focus on them, Panelo said in a statement.
Their resolution is an unwelcome intrusion to the country's domestic legal processes and an outrageous interference with our nation's sovereignty as the subject cases are now being heard by our local courts, he added.
Panelo emphasized that no government official of any foreign country has the authority or right to dictate on how the Philippine government should address the commission of crimes.
The Republic of the Philippines is not under the dominion of the United States of America or any of its high-ranking officials, Panelo said.
The US senators' resort to a reckless and unstudied political exercise only highlights their unfamiliarity with the domestic matters of our country as well as their disrespect to the clamor of the Filipino people for law and order, he added.
Panelo belittled the US senators for believing false narratives fed to them by biased news agencies and paid anti-Duterte trolls on issues concerning alleged extrajudicial killings, De Lima's case, and Ressa's charges.
He pointed out that both De Lima and Ressa's cases have passed through administrative and judicial processes before their respective warrants of arrest have been issued by courts.
De Lima has been detained for two years due to drug charges while Ressa was arrested twice over charges on cyber libel and for allegedly violating the Anti-Dummy Law but posted bail. Both De Lima and Ressa have been critical of the administration under President Rodrigo R. Duterte.
Senator De Lima is no prisoner of conscience rather a prisoner of no conscience or a prisoner of her own folly. She is charged with illegal drug-related transgressions committed while she was Justice Secretary but thought she could get away from them by virtue of being a member of Congress, Panelo said.
Ms. Ressa, on the other hand, is a high-profile journalist who is obsessed with hiding behind the mantle of the freedom of speech but who is criminally charged due to her commission of illegal acts, which include the offense of tax evasion, breach of our anti-dummy laws and violation of our cyber libel laws, he added.
The Presidential Spokesperson maintained that the Duterte administration enforces the law equally without any regard to any relationship or closeness to it.
Their association with the political opposition is no exempting circumstance to shield them from criminal prosecution. In this country no one is above the law, Panelo said.
"Holders of political positions, of influence, or of wealth are not exempted from the vigorous application and operation of our law, he added.
EJKs are not state-sponsored
Panelo denied anew that alleged extrajudicial killings in the country are state-sponsored and assured that these cases were being addressed.
EJKs are absolutely not state initiated or state-sponsored, proof of which is the death of scores of policemen and serious injuries to hundreds of others, Panelo said.
Panelo defended the administration's war on drugs saying that extrajudicial killings are a consequence of law enforcement agencies defending themselves during legitimate police operations or drug traders killing each other because of rivalry, botched deals, swindling or for their pre-emptive protection measures.
He also assured that all police abuses relative to the war on drugs is placed under administrative sanction and criminal prosecution citing the prosecution of a cop who killed an epileptic in a false drug trade and the cops involved in the killing of teenager Kian delos Santos as examples.
Last week's dismissal and prosecution of a Manila police officer for killing an epileptic in a false drug raid, together with last year's conviction of three Caloocan police officers for the killing of a teenager, underscores the policy that the administration does not tolerate abusive police officers as there will be hell for them to pay, as President Rodrigo Roa Duterte repeatedly mentioned, Panelo said.
Open to probe
Despite efforts of the Duterte administration to explain the legality of the drug war, Panelo claimed the US senators refused to listen because they would rather believe in what the opposition and critics say.
It only means one thing they don't want this administration if they're not listening to the explanation, Panelo said in a Palace press briefing on Monday.
Panelo said what the US senators should have done is to file a communication before the executive related to alleged human rights violations.
If they want to know what's happening in this country is to send someone to have an independent probe or write us formally so that the government can respond properly to whatever issues or questions they want to be answered, Panelo added.
Asked if the executive is open to a probe by US Senate, Panelo did not directly answer but reiterated that the US Senate could simply write them asking to explain a particular issue.
Well, they can do it silently if they really want to find out. If I were a US senator, I would probably do some probing myself. There are many ways of digging out the truth or the falsity of whatever narrative they received in the US, he explained.
Panelo, however, said he will leave it to Department of Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. to decide whether his department would file a diplomatic protest on the US senators' resolution.
Reports showed that the resolution, dated April 4, was filed by US Senators Marsha Blackburn (Tennessee), Chris Coons (Delaware), Richard Durbin Illinois), Edward Markey (Massachusetts), and Marco Rubio (Florida).
The resolution denounced the Philippine government for state-sanctioned extrajudicial killings by police and other armed individuals as part of the drug war and for the harassment, arrest, and unjustified proceedings against human rights defenders, political leaders, and journalists for exercising their right to free expression. (PNA)
Source: Philippines News Agency