By Genalyn D. Kabiling
Malacanang reiterated yesterday that the Duterte administration has no shoot-to-kill policy on crime suspects in the country even as it decried the “sweeping statements” of the United Nations (UN) human rights chief about the alleged rights abuses under President Duterte’s watch.
Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella made clear that the government’s anti-drug campaign aims to preserve lives of Filipinos and prevent the country from becoming a narco-state.
Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella (Presidential Communications Operations Office)
“We are deeply concerned with the UNHCR (UN High Commissioner for Human Rights) Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein’s sweeping statements during the UNHR Council’s 36th session, citing instances bereft of factual basis. Mr. Al Hussein’s broad references about the supposed policies of the President run counter to what he continues to pronounce,” Abella said.
“The President has categorically and repeatedly said that there is no shoot-to-kill order. All drug killings are subject to investigations,” he added.
Zeid, addressing the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) assembly in Geneva, has called on the Philippine government to uphold international human rights obligations after expressing grave concern over Duterte “open support for a shoot-to-kill policy” regarding suspects.
The UN human rights chief also scored the apparent absence of credible investigations into alleged extrajudicial killings and failure to prosecute any perpetrator.
“The President again told police they would not be punished for killing suspects who resist arrest. This lack of respect for the due process rights of all Filipinos is appalling,” Zeid said.
Abella likewise claimed that the UN official missed the “context” of the President’s statements on his supposed threat to bomb schools and shoot any human rights worker obstructing justice.
On the matter of indigenous schools, Abella said it was better to focus on the Duterte administration’s efforts to educate the indigenous people (IP). At present, he said there are 2,929,456 IP learners in the public school system.
“For next year, the IP education program will receive P 130.43 million, which is largely for capacity building, program support fund for implementation of IP education at the regional and division level,” he said.
On the issue of human rights workers, Abella clarified that the President was referring to rights activities “who aid or abet acts of violence during legitimate police operations where authorities have the right of self-defense.”
Abella likewise brushed aside the concern of the UN official about the case of Senator Leila de Lima.
“The incarceration of the lady senator is due to criminal, not political, issues,” he told Zeid.
“For the record, it is the court, which is independent from the executive, which ordered the arrest of Senator De Lima for drug trafficking charges and for allegedly receiving money from drug dealers at the National Penitentiary,” he added.
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