Palace: Gov’t not involved in harassment, intimidation of rights defenders in PH

Published April 3, 2018, 6:19 PM

by Roel Tibay

By Genalyn Kabiling

The government is not involved in the harassment and intimidation of human rights defenders in the country, a Palace official asserted today.

Senior Deputy Executive Secretary Menardo Guevarra (PCOO / MANILA BULLETIN)
Senior Deputy Executive Secretary Menardo Guevarra

Senior Deputy Executive Secretary Menardo Guevarra made the statement after Amnesty International reportedly called on the Duterte government to stop harassing human rights advocates over allegations they were supposedly in cahoots with drug lords.

“As to Amnesty International, there’s no such harassment nor intimidation of human rights defenders. We don’t know what they’re talking about,” Guevarra said in a text message to reporters.

Earlier, Amnesty International has asked the government to retract its accusations that some rights groups have been unwittingly used by drug lords to discredit the administration. The group claimed that such allegations were “dangerous attempts” by the government “to target human rights defenders and delegitimize their work.”

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque recently said some human rights groups have become “unwitting tools” of drug lords to destabilize the government. A similar statement was reportedly made by Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Cayetano.

“We stand by the statement we made on the possibility that some nongovernmental organizations, instead of assisting the government fulfill its human rights obligations, have become unwitting tools of drug lords,” Roque said.

“To continue to do and thrive in the drug business, these drug lords can easily use their drug money to fund destabilization efforts against the government,” he added.

The New York-based Human Rights Watch has already slammed the two officials for their “shockingly dangerous and shameful” accusations against human rights groups without showing any evidence.  The group demanded the two officials to withdraw their comments, warning that such remarks have placed the lives of human rights defenders at risk.