Palace maintains rights groups ‘unwitting tools’ of drug lords

MANILA MalacaAang on Tuesday stood by its remark that non-government organizations (NGOs) may have become "unwitting tools" by drug lords to discredit the Duterte administration's campaign against illegal drugs.

We stand by the statement we made on the possibility that some non-government organizations, instead of assisting the government fulfill its human rights obligations, have become unwitting tools of drug lords, Roque said in a press statement.

Such scenario, we reiterate, should not be discounted given the billion-peso losses of the drug lords, he added.

The international watchdog organization Human Rights Watch (HRW) earlier took a swipe at Roque and Foreign Affairs (DFA) Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano for saying that human rights groups have become unwitting tools by drug lords to discredit the government's drug war.

Human Rights Watch should therefore not feel alluded to, exaggerate and politicize the issue to get some media mileage and public attention, Roque said.

On Monday, Roque said since the illegal drug trade is a multibillion peso industry, drug lords can easily finance destabilization efforts against the government.

The illegal drug trade is a multibillion peso industry and billions have been lost with the voluntary surrender of more than a million drug users, arrest of tens of thousands of drug personalities, and seizure of billion-peso clandestine drug laboratories and factories, Roque said.

To continue to do and thrive in the drug business, these drugs lords can easily use their drug [money] to fund destabilization efforts against the government, he added.

Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo defended Roque and Cayetano, saying there is no need for them to withdraw their statements.

It's not even a disparaging statement, Panelo said.

Panelo said he would not be surprised if drug lords use innocent organizations in their attempt to prevent the success of President Rodrigo R. Duterte's intensified campaign against illegal drugs.

He said drug lords can always fund the NGOs without them knowing they are the ones funding it."

Source: Philippine News Agency

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