Malacañang denounced on Thursday a global campaign to impose sanctions on President Duterte and other ranking government officials for allege human right violations.
The International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP) announced earlier that it has launched a campaign to penalize ranking government officials who allegedly masterminded or took part in human rights violations.
It was the first time a human rights group was campaigning to enforce the Magnitsky Act, which authorizes the United States 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,” Andanar said in a press statement.
He reiterated however 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 batted for 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 Senator Bong Go, former presidential spokesperson Harry Roque, Quezon City Judge Cecilyn Burgos-Villavert, and NTF-ELCAC spokesperson Lorraine Badoy.
The Magnitsky Act was enacted in December 2012 during President Barrack Obama’s watch. Countries such as Canada and Australia have passed similar legislation.
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.
In another development, Dr. Naty Castro was released from detention on Wednesday after the case against her was dismissed by the court, her family said Thursday.
In a statement, the family said Castro, who is being linked to communist rebels by the police and the military, was no longer in Mindanao and they already met her Wednesday evening.
“Naty’s case got dismissed shortly before lunch yesterday, March 30,” the family said.
“Our family, with the help of friends, were successful in getting her out of Mindanao immediately. It was a tiring day, which culminated to us finally meeting her late in the evening,” the statement added.
Castro was arrested in San Juan City last February 18 on the basis of a warrant of arrest issued by acting Presiding Judge Fernando Fudalan of the Bayugan RTC Branch 7.
Police said Castro was a ranking member of the Communist Party of the Philippines and facing kidnapping and serious illegal detention charges.
She was flown to Bayugan City and brought to the city’s police station. The Bayugan RTC Branch 7 ordered her transfer to Agusan del Sur provincial jail.
The family said Castro now needed rest with his family and friends.
“This is a continuing saga still, and we hope for the safety of Naty. For now, Naty has to rest with family and trusted friends, and consolidate her thoughts after the harrowing experience,” the family said. With GMANEWS