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Chief justice debunks foreign meddling in PH rights situation

Chief Justice Lucas Bersamin on Friday said he did not see any need for international interference on the human rights situation in the Philippines, particularly the death toll in the government’s war on drugs.

Chief justice debunks foreign meddling in PH rights situation
Chief Justice Lucas Bersamin
“I am a member of the Judiciary and what I need to say for now is that we don’t see any need for international interference [in the country’s human rights situation],” Bersamin told reporters Friday on the sidelines of the launching of the Supreme Court app.

The top magistrate also shared the view of Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo the resolution submitted by Iceland last July 4 to the United Nations Human Rights Council was a minority resolution.

The resolution on the Philippines, led by Iceland, was adopted by the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on Thursday by a vote of 18 countries in favor and 14 against, with 15 abstentions. 

Meanwhile, the Commission on Human Rights complained the Philippine National Police had never granted accessibility to dossiers of all cases under probe in connection with the government’s war on drugs, especially those involving deaths.

“We, in the CHR, continue to pursue our constitutional duty of promoting and protecting human rights of all even in the face of blatant challenges to our mandate and existence in the past years,” lawyer-spokesperson Jacqueline Ann de Guia said.

“For the record, as early as 2016, CHR has sent formal letters to the PNP leadership, aside from public calls, reiterating our numerous requests to be provided with copies of the complete records of all cases being investigated by police in relation to the campaign against illegal drugs, especially those that resulted to deaths,” she added.

She said CHR got no answer from the PNP.

“Up until this date, we have yet to receive the said case folders despite statements of openness to cooperate with CHR as the country’s independent national human rights institution,” she noted. 

In 2016, a Senate inquiry, led by the justice and human rights committee, investigated alleged cases of extrajudicial killings brought about by the Duterte administration’s war on drugs.

“CHR attended and was ready to explain its side with its witnesses, but was barred from getting heard,” De Guia lamented. 

The United Nations Human Rights Council approved the draft resolution filed by Iceland to review the Philippines’ drug war.

“In the face of an approved UNHRC resolution calling for a comprehensive probe on the human rights situation in the Philippines, we welcome statements affirming the value of the Commission, even describing it as ‘perfectly working,’” De Guia said.

“We look forward to such affirmations translating to support during budget deliberations and in extending support to our work when it is time for us to demand greater truth and accountability for the allegations of human rights violations made against the Filipino people,” she added. 

In Manila, Mayor Francisco Domagoso, alias Isko Moreno, said while he could not guarantee to stop the killings of those involved in illegal drugs, added there were policies and guidelines to deal with them, recognizing the respect for human rights. 

Speaking during the National Press Club Report to the Nation, Moreno said his administration would not tolerate illegal drugs as he had ordered the Manila Police District to chase drug lords, drug peddlers, and users. 

He assured his support to President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs as long as it was within the bounds of the law.

But he also aired his concerns on drug users, saying they should be treated, rehabilitated and afforded the opportunity to go back to the society and lead a productive life.

He noted they would not tolerate police abuses such as incidents of  “nang-agaw ng baril.” “Meron dyan, tumalon daw mula sa police car, unang bumagsak ang ulo,” said Domagoso.

Domagoso believes drug suspects should be arrested, not killed, to face charges in court.

Based on police records, since the Duterte administration launched its bloody drug war, the majority of the killings related to illegal drugs happened in Manila. 

The country’s capital has been a “killing field” of drug pushers and users.

At the same time, the young mayor called on all those involved in illegal drugs to leave Manila as they will be hunted. 

“Not in Manila. Don’t do it in Manila. We will go after you and find you. We will chase,” said the newly-elected mayor. 

In wooing voters to support his mayoral bid,  Moreno hopes policemen will employ high tolerance in the drug campaign. 

Acknowledging that both the policemen and drug suspects enjoy human rights to keep themselves safe, Moreno said that in making arrests, there should be proportion in the application of force. 

Domagoso has maintained that the right to life and due process of both criminals and policemen should be respected in the campaign against drugs. 

In defending the right to live of those involved in illegal drugs since he believes that only God has the right to end lives, Moreno also said policemen have the right to protect themselves from armed suspects.

“Policemen also have human rights,” also said Domagoso. 

The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency reported that the number of drug suspects killed in anti-drug operations has reached 5,526—lower than the June 2019 report of the Philippine National Police which stated that 6,600 persons linked to illegal drugs were killed from July 2016 to May 2019.

In addition, PDEA said 193,063 drug suspects have been arrested in 134,583 operations conducted nationwide. With Rio N. Araja and Macon Ramos-Araneta

Topics: Lucas Bersamin , international interference , Supreme Court , United Nations Human Rights Council Salvador Panelo
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