Human Rights Watch asked to prove claims vs. Duterte

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PHILIPPINE SENATOR Richard Gordon on Wednesday, June 28, urged an international human rights group to show evidence to support their claims that President Rodrigo Duterte unleashed a “human rights calamity” in his first year as president.

Gordon, chairman of the Senate justice and human rights committee, challenged the credibility of the New-York based Human Rights Watch (HRW) claiming that it is an  “advocacy group that has to sustain its momentum so that resources can be provided to them.”

In an interview with ABS-CBN, he went on to say that “I’m not accusing them of taking advantage, they just have to earn their pay, earn their way.”

“A killing is a killing — homicides and murders. I don’t tolerate it, but all I want is for these groups to come out and get the evidence because right now, if you come down and look at the Duterte administration — and I’m not going to say that that’s the justification—people seem to be agreeing with the peace and order campaign,” the senator said.

HRW alleged that Duterte is an “instigator” of extrajudicial killings.

Official date from the Philippine National Police (PNP) revealed that the number of homicide cases totaled 9,432 from July 2016 to March 2017. Of that figure, 1,847 were said to be drug-related killings, while 1,894 were not. The remaining 5,691 cases, or approximately 60 percent of the total figure, remain under investigation.

Duterte’s anti-illegal drug campaign has also resulted in a 26.45 percent drop in the estimated total drug market and 28.57 percent reduction in index crime, according to PNP records.

“In several such cases, the police dismissed allegations of involvement when only hours before the suspects had been in police custody. Such cases call into question government assertions that the majority of killings were carried out by vigilantes or rival drug gangs,” the HRW said.

The group additionally stated that the Duterte administration has brushed off all local and international calls for accountability for the killings.

In light of the controversies, police authorities and the allies of Duterte have constantly denied claims that alleged drug-related killings are government-sponsored and that the policemen have been carrying out their jobs  “within the bounds of [the] law.”

“President Duterte took office promising to protect human rights, but has instead spent his first year in office as a boisterous instigator for an unlawful killing campaign,” Phelim Kine, deputy Asia director at HRW said.

The government’s murderous “’war on drugs,’ drug-related overcrowding of jails, and the harassment and prosecution of drug war critics have caused a steep decline with respect for basic rights since Duterte’s inauguration on June 30, 2016,” the group further claimed.

It also said that a United Nations (UN)-led international investigation on the killings is “desperately needed.”

Gordon, however, believes there is no need for a UN inquiry.

Last year, the Philippine senator led a legislative investigation which ruled out that there was “no sufficient evidence” to prove that the summary killings are government-sponsored. (AJPress)



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