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US State Department Report: EJK remains “chief human rights concern” in Phl

by Maris Federez   |   Posted on Friday, March 15th, 2019

Extrajudicial killings (EJK) continue to be “the chief human rights concern” in the Philippines, as it had been since President Rodrigo Duterte took office in 2016.

This is according to the Country Reports on Human Rights Practices 2018, which the US State Department has released on Thursday (Wednesday in Washington, D.C.).

The report said that after a sharp rise at the onset of the Duterte Administration’s anti-drug campaign in 2016, it remained to be so as of the time of the study, although at a lower level.

The US State Department reported that fatalities fell dramatically following the PNP’s suspension of the counter-narcotics campaign in accordance with a presidential memorandum in October 2017, and that when the President reversed the suspension just after two months, EJK incidents had increased but to a lower level than before it was deferred.

Based on several reports it has collected from various sources, the State Department said that the Philippine government’s “security agencies and their informal allies committed arbitrary or unlawful killings in connection with the government-directed campaign against illegal drugs.”

It added that “killings of activists, judicial officials, local government leaders, and journalists by anti-government insurgents and unknown assailants” also went up.

It further stated that “the 105,658 anti-drug operations conducted from July 2016 to September 2018, led to the deaths of 4,854 civilians and 87 members of the security forces.”

As an illustration, the State Department report cited the assassination of Tanauan City Mayor Antonio Halili by an unknown gunman during a flag ceremony at city hall on July 2, 2018.

Although Mayor Halili was known for his “Walk of Shame” parade for drug suspects, he was also on the president’s “narco list”.

Aside from the arbitrary killings or EJK, the US Department report also mentioned “forced disappearance; torture; arbitrary detention; harsh and life-threatening prison conditions; political prisoners; arbitrary or unlawful interference with privacy; criminal libel; killings of and threats against journalists; official corruption and abuse of power; and the use of forced and child labor” as among the human rights issues that their report had focused on across several countries.  – Maris Federez

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Duterte’s EJK statement not an evidence for impeachment – Malacañang

by Marje Pelayo   |   Posted on Monday, October 1st, 2018

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang maintained its stand in defense of President Rodrigo Duterte amid criticisms over the President’s remark on extrajudicial killings (EJK).

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque lambasted former College of Law Dean Atty. Antonio La Viña who claimed that Duterte’s statement was indeed an “admission of guilt” and a culpable violation of the Constitution.

La Viña added that the President’s EJK statement could be a basis for impeachment and can be used as evidence against him in the case filed at the International Criminal Court (ICC).

But Roque believes otherwise.

He dared the lawyer to begin the challenge by the filing of an impeachment complaint against Duterte.

“Let him start, he cannot vote because he is not a member of Congress and I’m sure it will also be dismissed by Congress not because it’s a political process but because it’s utterly bereft of merit,” Roque said.

The Presidential mouthpiece stressed that the President’s remarks cannot be considered an admission because he did not directly mention he killed someone.

Roque added that there was no such crime as extrajudicial killing in the Philippines or in the international law.

“I’d like to emphasize that there is actually no crime under both domestic or international law as EJK. in fact, this is a misleading term because killing in our constitution and in our laws is never legal so there is no such thing as extrajudicial killings. It’s either lawful killing or unlawful killing,” he explained.

Roque also noted that the EJK statement is in no way can be used as evidence to back up the complaint against President Duterte in the ICC because the international tribunal has no pending investigation in the Philippines.

He added that being a lawyer himself, he would not allow the ICC to meddle with the country’s judicial system which, Roque said, is actively functioning. – Marje Pelayo (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

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PNP: No extrajudicial killings under government’s war on drugs

by admin   |   Posted on Friday, September 28th, 2018

FILE PHOTO: Philippine National Police

MANILA, Philippines — As far as the Philippine National Police is concerned, there has been no case of extrajudicial killings under the Duterte administration.

According to PNP Director General Oscar Albayalde, police officers were not mandated to kill drug suspects under the government’s war on drugs.

“In fairness to the president and even to the former Chief PNP Bato dela Rosa na wala pong binigay sa amin na order whatsoever na para pumatay even mga suspek, even drug dependents or even mga criminals,” he said.

This week, the PNP reported that more than 4,800 drug personalities have been killed in over 100,000 legitimate anti-drug operations from July 1, 2016 to August 31, 2018.

In the said operations, 155,000 drug suspects were arrested.

Albayalde said drug suspects get killed when they resist arrest or retaliate against police operatives. He also assures that policemen who get involved in a killing incident are dealt with accordingly.

“In fact not even the Commission on Human Rights ay may na prove na may EJK during the time of Pres. Duterte, and even since the time of Chief Bato ay walang ring na prove naganyan,” he added.

The PNP chief also defended President Rodrigo Duterte amid criticisms over his latest statement on extrajudicial killings.

Albayalde said the Chief Executive may have only been expressing his frustrations on the matter.

“Alam niyo naman yung political atmosphere ditto sa ating bansa everytime. Pag ikaw ay nakaupo diyan palaging may ibinabatong kung ano ano sayo, since wala nang maibato sa kanya, ito ay paulit ulit at history na ito at inuungkat na lang yung word na EJK,” Albayalde said. — Lea Ylagan

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Palace on Duterte’s EJK remarks: Nothing serious

by Marje Pelayo   |   Posted on Friday, September 28th, 2018

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque | PCOO

MANILA, Philippines – “Hindi na naman iyan seryoso.”

This was how Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque described President Rodrigo Duterte’s remark on extrajudicial killings which made his critics believe it was an admission of guilt.

Roque said the President was actually stressing a more important point which the critics missed, and that is — that he never had a single stain of corruption.

“It’s also na idinidiin lang niya na talagang hindi siya nagnanakaw. Pero I don’t think na ang konteksto niyan ay literal. That’s the President being himself, being playful, highlighting the point na hindi siya corrupt,” said Roque.

Roque also explained in a radio interview that the President’s statement was not self-incriminating because it was not done under oath.

Chief presidential legal counsel Atty. Salvador Panelo, meanwhile, was also quick to defend the President on the EJK issue saying he actually meant otherwise.

“Ang ibig niyang sabihin, ‘Ang isyu lang laban sa akin ay extrajudicial killings,’ iyon ang ibig sabihin nun. Alam mo, Bisaya si Presidente,” Panelo said.

President Duterte’s drug war has earned massive criticisms not only in the Philippines but around the world.

Complaints have been filed in the International Criminal Court against the President for his role in the alleged mass murder of drug suspects under his anti-illegal drugs campaign. – Marje Pelayo (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

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