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

Marje Pelayo   •   July 8, 2019   •   1685

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

Duterte names new chiefs for AFP Western, Northern Luzon commands

Robie de Guzman   •   January 19, 2022

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has designated new chiefs for the Northern Luzon and Western Commands of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Malacañang said Wednesday.

In a statement, the Palace said Duterte has approved the appointment of Rear Admiral Alberto Carlos, the current commander of the Philippine Navy, as the new chief of the AFP Western Command.

He will replace Rear Admiral Roberto Enriquez starting January 24.

Duterte also appointed Major General Ernesto Torres Jr., the current commander of the Philippine Army 10th Infantry Division, as the new chief of the AFP Northern Luzon Command.

He will replace Lieutenant General Arnulfo Marcelo Burgos Jr. effective January 7.

“We wish both officers all the best in their new tours of duty, and we are confident that they will continue to perform their mandate to serve our people and to secure our nation with professionalism, integrity, and dedicated service,” the Palace said.

In a separate statement, Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana welcomed the appointment of the new officers to the two commands of the AFP “tasked with protecting the country’s northern and western frontiers.”

Lorenzana also confirmed the assumption of Major General Nestor Herico as the new commandant of the Philippine Marine Corps effective February 21. He will replace retiring Major General Ariel Caculitan.

“As these gentlemen assume their new roles in the organization, I am confident that they will rise to the occasion and effectively lead our troops in securing our nation and our people,” the DND chief said.

28 more areas placed under COVID-19 Alert Level 3 – Palace

Robie de Guzman   •   January 12, 2022

MANILA, Philippines – The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) has placed more areas under COVID-19 Alert Level 3 amid increasing COVID-19 cases, Malacañang said Wednesday.

In a statement, acting Presidential Spokesperson and Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said the following areas will be under Alert Level 3:

 

LUZON

  • Benguet
  • Kalinga
  • Abra
  • La Union
  • Ilocos Norte
  • Pangasinan
  • Nueva Vizcaya
  • Isabela
  • Quirino
  • Nueva Ecija
  • Tarlac
  • Quezon Province
  • Occidental Mindoro
  • Oriental Mindoro
  • Camarines Sur
  • Albay

 

VISAYAS

  • Bacolod City
  • Capiz
  • Antique
  • Cebu City
  • Mandaue City
  • Tacloban City

 

MINDANAO

  • Cagayan de Oro City
  • Davao City
  • Butuan City
  • Agusan del Sur
  • Cotabato City

The alert level designation in the said areas will take effect from January 14 until January 31, the Palace said.

All other provinces and cities not mentioned shall remain under their current alert level classification, it added.

Metro Manila, Cavite, Rizal, Bulacan, and Laguna are under Alert Level 3 until January 15.

Defense chief on martial law rumors amid rising COVID-19 cases: Fake news

Robie de Guzman   •   January 7, 2022

MANILA, Philippines – Department of National Defense (DND) chief Delfin Lorenzana has denied rumors circulating on social media that the government will declare martial law or a total lockdown to address the rapidly growing new COVID-19 cases.

In a statement, Lorenzana said there is no compelling reason for President Rodrigo Duterte to declare martial law.

“Not true. Fake news. Definitely out of the picture. There is no compelling reason to declare martial law,” he said.

Rumors that Duterte will impose a total lockdown, barring everyone from going out of their homes to address the coronavirus surge have circulated on social media at the start of the week.

This week, the Philippines saw a rapid increase in the number of new infections, with 17,220 additional cases recorded on Thursday.

The sharp increase in the country’s COVID cases is believed to be caused by the local transmission of Omicron and Delta variants.

But Lorenzana pointed out that the latest tally is lower than the over 26,000 recorded in 2021.

He added that while highly transmissible, the Omicron variant is seen to be less aggressive than the Delta variant.

“The highest we had was 26,000+ last year. Today we have 17,220. This variant while more transmissible is less virulent than delta. Less people get seriously sick,” he said.

Due to rising cases, Metro Manila, Rizal, Cavite, Laguna, and 14 other areas in the country have been placed under COVID-19 Alert Level 3.

President Rodrigo Duterte have also directed local officials to restrict the movement of unvaccinated persons in a bid to protect them from contracting the virus.

Lorenzana, who also chairs the National Task Force against COVID-19, said the Inter-Agency Task Force is still evaluating on the possibility of implementing stricter measures to combat the COVID-19 surge. (with details from Correspondent Lea Ylagan)

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