Global campaign to sanction PH officials 'baffling': Palace

By Azer Parrocha

March 31, 2022, 4:51 pm

<p>Acting presidential spokesperson Martin Andanar<em> (File photo)</em></p>

Acting presidential spokesperson Martin Andanar (File photo)

MANILA – Malacañang denounced on Thursday a global campaign to impose sanctions on President Rodrigo Duterte and other ranking Philippine officials for allegedly violating human rights.

In a statement on Tuesday, the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP) announced that it has launched a campaign to impose sanctions on ranking officials who allegedly masterminded or took part in human rights violations.

It is the first time any rights group is campaigning to enforce the Magnitsky Act, which authorizes the US government to sanction human rights violators globally by banning entry into the US and freezing their assets.

Acting presidential spokesperson Martin Andanar dismissed the move as an effort to publicly “name and shame the Philippines before the international community.”

“It is baffling how it has come up with allegations of human rights violations of the Philippine government without validating the same with the appropriate authorities,” he said in a press statement.

Despite this development, he reiterated the government’s commitment to actively engage with the international community in addressing the country's human rights concerns.

“Again, as we are serious in resolving all human rights violations and abuses, alleged or not, we keep our doors wide open to this group for substantive and productive engagements. This would spare them from being a laughing stock among States that know better what is really going on in our country,” he added.

Meanwhile, Andanar emphasized the need to “protect” the Magnitsky Act from misuse.

Aside from Duterte, the coalition is calling to impose sanctions on Senator Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa who spearheaded the anti-illegal drugs campaign called “Oplan Tokhang” when he was Philippine National Police (PNP) chief.

ICHRP also wants sanctions imposed on former PNP chief, Gen. Debold Sinas, National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) members Gen. Jose Faustino Jr., Gen. Hermogenes Esperon, Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr., Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año, former Special Assistant to the President and Senator Bong Go, former presidential spokesperson Harry Roque, Quezon City Judge Cecilyn Burgos-Villavert, and NTF-ELCAC spokesperson Lorraine Badoy.

The original Magnitsky Act, enacted during the administration of former US President Barack Obama in December 2012, aims to punish Russian officials responsible for the death of Russian tax lawyer Sergei Magnitsky in a Moscow prison in 2009.

This was followed by the US Congress passing the Global Magnitsky Act in 2016, which enabled the US to impose visa bans and targeted sanctions on individuals anywhere in the world responsible for committing human rights violations or acts of significant corruption.

It was named after Russian tax lawyer Sergei Magnitsky who experienced reprisal after uncovering a tax fraud scheme linked to Russian officials. He was jailed in Russia and later died.

In his virtual speech before the United Nations Human Rights Council’s (UNHRC) 49th Session on February 28, Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Menardo Guevarra said the Philippines will be reviewing 250 more cases of deaths linked to the Duterte administration's campaign against illegal drugs.

Guevarra told the UN body that four of these cases have reached Philippine courts for prosecution.

He also affirmed the Philippines’ commitment to sustaining its long tradition of constructive engagement with the UN even with the change in administration in June after the elections. (PNA)