Malacañang blasts US senator for denouncing PH rights record

By Azer Parrocha

November 17, 2019, 4:15 pm

MANILA -- There is nothing new about the remarks made by US Senator Bernie Sanders on the alleged human rights abuses made by the Philippine government, Malacañang said on Sunday.

Sanders, in a Tweet on Friday linking a post from the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), said the "repression of trade unionists is a shameful attempt to silence people's rights and freedoms."

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo, however, said Sanders was merely reiterating unvalidated reports peddled by foreign news agencies.

“Ang tingin ko rin na shameful attempt din sa parte niya na magbigay siya ng impormasyon na hindi naman niya na-validate (I think it is also a shameful attempt on his part to give information that is not validated),” Panelo said in an interview over dzIQ.

“Inuulit niya lang ang sinasabi ng mga kritiko na pine-peddle sa foreign news agencies (He is merely repeating what critics say based on what has been peddled by foreign news agencies),” he added.

In the ITUC report shared by Sanders titled "Philippines: Government Crackdown Targets Unions", it claimed that the Duterte administration’s drug war “has been responsible for a reported 27,000 extra-judicial killings since it was launched by President Duterte in 2016.”

“Both the ILO (International Labor Organization) and the United Nations’ Human Rights Council have resolved to send high level missions to probe the human rights situation following widespread reports of extrajudicial killings and repression of trade-unions and their members,” the report read.

It further noted that while the government pledged to investigate the killings of 43 trade unionists in a meeting with the ITUC in August, “no progress has been reported and the government is yet to accept the ILO mission to the country, while the violence against activists continues with impunity.”

Panelo, meanwhile, defended anew joint operations conducted by police and military personnel in offices of activist groups who were suspected to be militants in Bacolod City and Metro Manila last October 31.

“Pag merong raid ang PNP ibig sabihin meron silang intelligence report na hindi gumagawa ng tama ang mga organisasyon na yan, na hindi tama at labag sa batas (If the PNP conducts a raid, they have an intelligence report that an organization is up to no good which is against the law),” Panelo said.

Kung mali naman ang raid (If conducting a raid is a wrong move), they can always go to court and sue them,” he added.

Last Nov. 7, Panelo emphasized that it is government policy to investigate complaints on criminal activities and if evidence warrants it.

The Palace official said security forces have to conduct surveillance as long as they had a basis to do so.

On Oct. 31, security forces raided offices of activist groups including Bayan Muna, Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU), Gabriela, and Negros Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW) which led to the arrest of at least 60 suspected militants, including 13 minors.

The law enforcers found that some activist group members had firearms, explosives, and subversive documents.

Groups have condemned raids conducted claiming that evidence was planted to justify the arrests. (PNA)