Palace on Sunday described as mere propaganda a militant group’s submission of a letter of allegations to United Nations special rapporteurs Agnes Callamard and Michael Forst concerning 25 alleged cases of extrajudicial killings.
In a statement, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said he has yet to see the cases and has no idea if the group, Karapatan, filed the cases before local courts or fiscals.
“It’s useless to go to go the UN without filing cases before the fiscal’s office. Filing directly with the UN is only for propaganda purposes because there are institutions in the Philippines that could address it. So they should file it in the fiscal’s office, they should file it with the Supreme Court for writ of Amparo if they’re concerned about upholding the right to life,” said Roque.
“We find it unfortunate that human rights group advocate Karapatan wrote two separate letters to the United Nations, specifically to UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial killings Agnes Callamard and UN special rapporteur on human rights defenders Michel Forst, in connection with alleged cases of extrajudicial killings in the Philippines,” said Roque.
“The State—not international bodies like the United Nations—is duty-bound to investigate alleged cases of EJKs,” said Roque.
“Karapatan knows that it can avail of all domestic remedial mechanisms,” he said.
“The pillars of the criminal justice system in the Philippines remain to be effective and our legal processes are well-functioning,” said Roque.
“We therefore hope that they will file their complaints in the proper courts not before the so-called human rights rapporteurs who have politicized views of the Philippines’ campaign against illegal drugs,” he said.
“Certainly, Karapatan knows the cases will not prosper there in the UN,” said Roque.
“It is the political mileage they are after in pursuit of their continued intent to malign this administration, through the special rapporteurs who only seem too willing to act based on fake political information,” he said.
“Let Karapatan be reminded that there is an inter-agency committee, known as AO 35 Committee, created precisely for such purpose which is chaired by the Secretary of Justice,” said Roque.
In the letter, Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay said the alleged new EJK cases were perpetrated by security forces in relation to the administration’s counter-insurgency program.
“From one counter-insurgency program to another, cases of extrjaudicial killings against peasants, indigenous peoples, Moro, workers, women and youth continue to be committed with impunity under the murderous Duterte regime,” Karapatan said in its letter.
“Also, most, if not all, of the perpetrators of human rights violations under the administrations of former Presidents Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Benigno Simeon ‘Noynoy’ Aquino III have not been brought to justice,” Karapatan said.
Karapatan claimed it has so far documented 104 victims of EJKs under Duterte’s counter-insurgency program from July 2016 to October 2017.