Human rights group Karapatan has called on the Philippine National Police to release investigation reports on activist and rights defender killings.
Both Malacanang and the PNP earlier denied that President Rodrigo Duterte had ordered the withholding of such reports from the Commission on Human Rights after CHR Commissioner Leah Tanodra-Armamento alleged on ANC that “there is an order from the President himself not to give the Commission on Human Rights the data.”
Karapatan, however, doubted government denials, arguing that “if what (Presidential Spokesperson) Harry Roque and the PNP say is true, then where is PNP’s own report on the investigations to ‘unmask those behind these brazen killings’?”
“Why hasn’t it been submitted to the CHR and why is the PNP insistent on refusing to cooperate with the CHR in their investigations? Did they submit this report to the United Nations (UN) High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet?” Karapatan asked.
“Why haven’t they made public the contents of this report? What are the salient points of the report? Have they prosecuted or convicted anyone who conducted these killings? If they had this report, why are there no developments in the cases of killings? Why don’t they submit this report to UN Special Rapporteurs who haven’t received their replies for years on communications regarding these killings?” it further asked.
Karapatan said that without a substantial response to the aforementioned questions, the government’s statements will only bolster the conclusion that state forces were indeed accountable for these killings, or that the state has extremely failed in its obligation to deliver justice and exact accountability.
“We are aware that the Commission on Human Rights has been conducting investigations on the attacks and killings of human rights defenders based on the complaints filed before their offices and on the testimonies given during their public inquiry in September 2019,” it said.
“We are no longer surprised if indeed there is such an order given by President Rodrigo Duterte to the Philippine National Police not to release or share information with regards to the CHR’s investigation — which PNP spokesperson Brigadier General Bernard Banac insisted is ‘independent and separate’ from the PNP’s standard protocols,” it added.
Karapatan claimed that as it has observed that the killings of human rights defenders are being conducted upon the current administration’s order — with its complicity and tolerance written all over the acts of government officials and state forces before, during, and after the said killings.