Palace finds US report on Duterte gov’t ‘objective’

March 16, 2019
Rodrigo Duterte

MALACAÑANG yesterday said that the US State Department’s 2018 Human Rights Report on the Philippines is an objective and balanced appreciation of the Duterte administration’s governance agenda anchored on fighting corruption, criminality and illegal drugs.

But in a statement, presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo criticized the political opposition—including the media—for picking out the “negative observations,” milking such aspects in the report for their political purposes.

Panelo urged the public to “read the report in its entirety that they may not be deceived by intended negative and false commentaries.”

The Palace official said the report mentions developments in Duterte’s war on drugs and shows respect for the Philippine government’s efforts in facing the challenges in law enforcement.

For instance, Panelo said, the US report pointed out the “deaths of many law enforcement officers during operations, even as accountability of those from the same ranks is guaranteed through investigations of any actions taken outside the rule of law.”

Moreover, he said “The report points out that government civilian control over its law enforcers is exercised, citing a statement from the President that while the anti-drug campaign is ‘far from over’ with its ‘relentless and chilling’ effect, all police who are corrupt are hunted down and jailed.”

On the other hand, Panelo said that the US report shows sympathy for the Philippine government’s challenges in the peace processes with rebel groups.

In its entirety, Panelo said “If only for these positive observations, and there are more, we find the 2018 report by the US State Department relevant.”

Earlier reports indicate that extrajudicial killings (EJKs) were still among the US’ “chief human rights” concerns in the Philippines.

“Extrajudicial killings have been the chief human rights concern in the country for many years and, after a sharp rise with the onset of the anti-drug campaign in 2016, they continued in the reporting year, albeit at a lower level,” the report reads.