Duterte gov’t has high regard for human rights – Panelo

By Genalyn Kabiling

The administration has “high regard” for human rights and will penalize policemen who abuse their authority in the campaign against illegal drugs, Malacañang assured the public Tuesday.

Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo (OPS / MANILA BULLETIN)
Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo has urged victims of police abuse to file cases instead of seeking help from critics who politicize their situation.

“The Duterte administration has high regard for human rights,” he said in a statement.

“Lest we forget that the Philippines, under President Duterte’s leadership, has been elected to the UN Human Rights Council with 165 out of 192 votes at the UN General Assembly, thus showing the increasing recognition of the international community of our policies concerning human rights and humanitarian law,” he added.

Rejecting criticisms that police abuses are supposedly tolerated, Panelo maintained that no one is above the law in the country.

“Police officers who abuse their authority are penalized by this Administration and face the corresponding punishment of their unlawful actions,” he said.

To the victims of rights abuses, Panelo said they should file cases “so their respective grievances can be redressed by this Government accordingly.” He discouraged them from seeking help from detractors or critics “who are known to only politicize their situations.”

Panelo made the remarks after the Amnesty International (AI) called on the United Nations human rights body to probe the alleged abuses in the Philippine government’s war on drugs. The rights group alleged the Duterte government was carrying out “large-scale murdering enterprise” and must be investigated for alleged crimes against humanity.

Panelo, however, dismissed Amnesty’s report as biased, insisting that drug-related deaths are “neither state-initiated nor sponsored.”

He claimed that Amnesty was politicizing the drug-related deaths “with utter disregard of the facts and circumstances.”

He said Amnesty and some foreign groups have been misinformed by false news, untruthful accounts and propaganda about the President’s war on drugs.

“We reiterate, the drug-related deaths are results of legitimate police operations wherein the subjects violently resist arrest, and in turn endanger the lives of the law enforcers who merely act on self-defense, which is sanctioned by law,” Panelo said.

“These consequences are unavoidable with the government trying to clear the country of illegal drugs along with the President’s unyielding political will to provide a safe environment for every Filipino,” he added.