By: Genalyn Kabiling
Impunity has no place under President Duterte’s watch, Malacañang said on Tuesday in downplaying a European Union (EU) report about the alleged worsening human rights record in the country.
Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella asserted that the government does not tolerate extrajudicial killings, saying such cases of violence are being investigated to bring the culprits to justice.
“For the public’s continuing awareness, we reiterate that the Philippines is investigating allegations of drug-related killings, extrajudicial deaths, and media violence to ensure the accountability of perpetrators,” Abella said during a Palace news conference.
“And Congressional hearings were convened to look into these allegations and have proved that the State does not sanction wanton and unjustified killings. Impunity does not have a place in this Administration,” he added.
In its annual report on the world’s human rights and democracy, the EU claimed that there was a “serious deterioration” in human rights, due process and rule of law in the Philippines during the second half of 2016.
It also criticized the country’s “prevailing culture of impunity” as a major issue. “Grave human rights abuses, including killings of human rights defenders and media workers, remain largely unresolved,” the regional bloc said.
Abella however dismissed the EU critical report on drug killings as a “rehash” of allegations hurled by the political opposition. He added that the much of the report was “anecdotal” since they were based on “media reports and alleged human rights watchers.”
“The EU’s report covers the period of last year’s elections and many of its alleged findings are a rehash of criticisms aired by the political party whose candidate lost to the President.
He also said the allegations made by the EU were made way before the Philippines’ third cycle Universal Periodic Review (UPR) by the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in May this year.
“The Philippine government has already responded to these allegations during the said UPR, the report of which was unanimously adopted by the UNHRC last month,” he said.
The EU report came after President Duterte launched a profanity-laced tirade agains the bloc for supposedly interfering in the country’s affairs. Duterte later decided to reject any EU aid that comes with conditions that harm the country’s sovereignty.
Abella explained that the country is still open to do trade and commerce with the EU although it was not keen on accept questionable grants.
“Trade wise, the European businessmen may continue to do business with the Philippines,” he said.