US human rights report cites dev’t in PH anti-drug drive

MANILA - The US State Department's recent 2018 Human Rights Report on the Philippines is objective and balance as it cited developments in the government's campaign against illegal drugs, MalacaAang said Saturday.

"The level of objectivity and balance of the 44-page US State Department's 2018 Human Rights Report on the Philippines reflects the US government's appreciation of the Duterte administration's governance agenda anchored on fighting corruption, criminality and illegal drugs," Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a statement.

Panelo said while detractors and critics of the administration are focusing on the negative aspects of the report, the assessment showed that the US respects the deeper challenges confronting the government.

"While the political opposition and detractors of the President, including some of those in the mainstream media, would dwell on what they consider as negative observations and milk the same for their political purposes, we prefer to see the glass half-full and focus on the positive aspects of the report. We urge the public to read the report in its entirety that they may not be deceived by intended negative and false commentaries," he said.

"The report mentions the developments in the Duterte administration's anti-drug campaign. Its assessment is respectful of the government's deeper challenges, e.g. deaths of many law enforcement officers during operations, even as accountability of those from the same ranks is guaranteed through investigations of any actions taken outside the rule of law, he added.

Panelo said the Palace notes that there may be accounts of abuse on the part of its law enforcers but reiterated the Philippine government's adherence and commitment to human rights. He assured that these cases are isolated and are being addressed and those responsible will be made accountable.

"While the report also cites the usual criticisms against the administration, we reiterate that the President and this government have never sponsored any form of violation of human rights nor will they tolerate them," he said.

Panelo, also Chief Presidential legal counsel, said the report "is also sympathetic to the government's challenges in the peace process", particularly with Muslim separatists, communist insurgents, and terrorist groups that continue to attack government security forces and civilian.

He also cited the report's mention of the milestones in addressing concerns of vulnerable groups, such as the government's use of its 16 rehabilitation centers around the country to assist about 1,650 children in conflict with the law, as well as its mobilization of youth centers managed by local governments to provide protection, care, training and rehabilitation for these children.

Panelo said freedom of expression is practiced in the country, contrary to criticisms by various groups.

"The observance of the freedom of expression in this country is such that fabricated portrayals on the war on drugs find print and aired repeatedly reaching the outside world some of which recklessly and responsibly believe them without the benefit of validation," he said.

Panelo noted that the report also acknowledged the government's effort to promote the speedy disposition of court cases.

The US State Department has been producing annual human rights reports of all countries receiving assistance and United Nations member states since 1977. (PNA)

Source: Philippines News Agency

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