MANILA -- The Philippines does not need foreign human rights organizations to assist families of alleged victims of extrajudicial killings in the country, Malacañang said on Monday.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said government agencies and local human rights groups in the Philippines are more than able to help those who claim to be victims of police abuses.
Panelo issued this statement after London-based human rights organization Amnesty International (AI) urged the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) to investigate human rights violations in the Duterte administration's war on drugs.
AI also described Bulacan as the country’s bloodiest killing field with 27 reported incidents of killings between May 2018 and April 2019.
Panelo said AI is “politicizing” the alleged extrajudicial killings in the country by relying on false reports and narratives from critics and detractors of the President.
“The problem is this Amnesty International is politicizing the so-called extrajudicial killings in this country. So 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 has been police abuse in the matter of police operations,” Panelo said in a Palace briefing.
“They don’t have to help, because the family -- we have our own organizations of human rights here. They can always assist them. We have PAO (Public Attorney’s Office), a government agency precisely to help poor litigants; we have the IBP (Integrated Bar of the Philippines) Free Legal Services, they can always go there,” he added.
Panelo urged AI to refrain from downplaying the role of local human rights groups, which have been very active in assisting families of alleged extrajudicial killings.
“Let our own group assist our own Filipinos. We don’t need them. We have a battery of human rights activist in this country. We don’t need interference from any other human rights group,” Panelo said.
“They cannot be belittling our own human rights groups here. They have been very busy. They have been very active in helping our countrymen who feel that they have been subject of an abuse coming from who ever,” he added.
Panelo, who is also Chief Presidential Legal Counsel, defended the drug war anew noting that these alleged killings are the result of legitimate police operations.
He, meanwhile, assured that erring policemen are put behind bars.
“For every death occurring in any police operations or arrest, the policemen involved are administratively charged -- and that is recorded. Either they are administratively charged or a criminal complaint is filed against them and it’s for them to present their side,” Panelo said.
He also said urged family members of police abuse victims to file cases against them.
“They should have filed a case against the policeman and we would have welcomed it. As the President says, we will not tolerate any police abuse because there will always be hell to pay for them,” Panelo said. (PNA)