Malacañang slams Amnesty International over calls to probe Duterte’s war on drugs

Marje Pelayo   •   July 8, 2019   •   1343

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang lambasted human rights group Amnesty International (AI) over calls for the United Nation Human Rights Council (UNHRC) to investigate the administration’s war on drugs.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo on Monday (July 8) accused the group of politicking and using the issue to malign the reputation of the President Rodrigo Duterte’s government.  

According to Malacañang, the group doesn’t have the right to probe the human rights situation in the country given that the Philippines has a local human rights body authorized to conduct an inquiry on the alleged abuses as a result of the government’s drive against illegal drugs.

Panelo added that there are organizations in the Philippines that can provide legal assistance to victims of human rights abuses such as the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) and the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP).

“The problem is this Amnesty International is politicizing the so-called extrajudicial killings of this country,” Panelo argued.

“There is bias. There is prejudice. We’d rather have our own groups here protective of human rights, to help, those who feel that there have been police abuses in the matter of police operations” he added.

The Palace insisted that the international group has no basis for its claims adding that its figure on alleged deaths related to the government’s drug war is exaggerated and is not backed by factual reports.

Likewise, the Duterte administration challenges its critics to file a formal complaint if there is any proof or confirmed victims of abuse in relation to the drug war as the government will not tolerate such practice especially among law enforcers such as the Philippine National Police (PNP).

Filing a complaint, Panelo said, is the most appropriate action against any case of abuse, if there’s any, during the conduct of anti-drug operations.

“I think it is incorrigible on the part of the Amnesty International to make that call. It keeps on calling for an investigation ever since. But the fact remains that the basis for their call is factually wrong,” argued Panelo.

“They’re saying that there have been murders in this country as if all those who are killed in the police operations have been intentionally slaughtered or killed by the policemen” he concluded.

Earlier on Monday, AI, made public its report – “They Just Kill” – which demanded the UNHRC to approve a resolution that seeks for an investigation into the Philippines’ drug war.

It also called for the UN body to “immediately initiate an independent, impartial and effective investigation into human rights violations in the ‘war on drugs,’ including the commission of crimes under international law.” – with reports from Rosalie Coz and April Cenedoza

Senate OKs bill giving Duterte power to delay class opening during public crisis

Robie de Guzman   •   June 2, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Senate has approved on third and final reading a bill seeking to grant President Rodrigo Duterte ‘flexibility’ to schedule the opening of classes in schools during a state of emergency.

Voting 23-0, senators on Monday unanimously passed Senate Bill 1541, which proposes to amend Section 3 of the Republic Act 7797, a law which sets the opening of school-year as early as the first Monday of June but not later than the last day of August.

The measure covers all basic education schools, including foreign or international schools in the country.

Once enacted into law, the bill would authorize the President, upon the recommendation of the Secretary of the Department of Education, to set the opening of classes nationwide or in selected areas at any date during a state of emergency or calamity.

A similar measure has been approved in the committee level in the House of Representatives on Saturday.

The approval of the proposed measure comes amid the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic which has affected millions of people worldwide. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Harlene Delgado)

Duterte certifies as urgent bill seeking to toughen PH anti-terror law

Robie de Guzman   •   June 1, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has certified as urgent a bill that seeks to strengthen the country’s anti-terrorism law.

In a letter to House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano on Monday, Duterte certified as urgent House Bill No. 6785, which seeks to amend and toughen the Human Security Act of 2007.

In his letter, Duterte said the immediate enactment of the measure is to “address the urgent need to strengthen the law on anti-terrorism in order to adequately and effectively contain the menace of terrorist acts for the preservation of national security and the promotion of general welfare.”

The House Bill reportedly adopted the Senate version which passed on third and final reading in February.

Under the bill, anyone who threatens to commit terrorism, propose any terroristic acts or incite others to commit terrorism shall mete out a penalty of 12 years of imprisonment.

It also introduces provisions penalizing those who will propose, incite, conspire, participate in the planning, training, preparation and facilitation of a terrorist act; as well as those who will provide material support to terrorists, and recruit members in a terrorist organization.

The measure also includes a new section on foreign terrorist fighters to cover Filipino nationals who commit terrorist offenses abroad.

It also aims to provide law enforcers the much-needed tools to protect the people from terrorism threat and, at the same time, safeguard the rights of those accused of the crime.

Once a bill is certified as urgent, the Senate and the House of Representatives can immediately pass a measure on second and third reading on the same day.

Rights advocates had earlier warned that the bill’s enactment would worsen the human rights situation in the country.

Duterte fires OCD Deputy Administrator Kristoffer James Purisima

Marje Pelayo   •   May 22, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte has dismissed Kristoffer James Purisima as deputy administrator assistant secretary of the Office of the Civil Defense (OCD).

According to Presidential Spokesperson Secretary Harry Roque, the President decided to remove Purisima from office due to “loss of trust and confidence.”

Roque could not tell, however, under what circumstance prompted the President to fire Purisima.

Wala na po akong ibang impormasyon (I don’t have additional information) other than he was terminated due to loss of trust and confidence,” Roque confirmed.

The OCD is the government’s main unit responsible for disaster preparedness and response in times of calamity.

Prior to his position in OCD, Purisima served as spokesperson of Task Force Bangon Marawi. MNP (with details from Rosalie Coz)

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