MALACAÑANG yesterday dismissed as “remarkable in ignorance” and “bias” a report from a US-based non-government organization calling the Philippines a “war zone in disguise” due to President Rodrigo Duterte’s bloody drug war.
“Not having presented any proof that it has conducted factual investigation in the country as to the conditions obtaining, it is reasonable to believe that its conclusions are based on allegations made by groups that are hopelessly and blindly critical of the Duterte administration,” Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a statement.
Panelo was reacting to Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project’s (ACLED) Year In Review: 2018 report which claimed that more civilians were killed in the Philippines in the past year than in conflict-stricken countries like Iraq, Somalia, or the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The report also noted that the country is “one of the deadliest places in the world to be a civilian.”
Panelo said describing the administration’s drug war as a “state terror campaign” is pure ‘hogwash.’
“The report stating that there is an alleged prevalence of state repression tagging the Philippines as a country where civilians are most at risk in 2018 is an infinitely fallacious finding,” he added.
“Make no mistake about it, the Philippines is a dangerous country to drug manufacturers, dealers, addicts, criminals, terrorists, scoundrels, corrupt and abusive persons in authority,” Panelo said.
“Impunity has no place under the current administration as exemplified by the conviction of Caloocan City policemen involved in the killing of a minor, Kian de los Santos, with no less than the President denouncing the killers and ordering them placed behind bars,” he added.
Panelo also said that media in the Philippines remains one of the freest in the world, noting that the case against online media outfit Rappler is unrelated to the content of their reports but rather involves their having evaded tax payment.
He also mentioned one of Duterte’s staunchest critics, detained Senator Leila De Lima, whom he called a “criminal in nature.”
“She (De Lima) remains incarcerated because the evidence in the drug-related charges filed against her is strong as determined by the court trying her hence she is unqualified for bail,” Panelo said.
Panelo stressed that surveys have consistently showed that Filipinos continue to see a trustworthy leader in Duterte, adding that his “continued popularity dispels all these allegations.”
Panelo ended his statement by telling ACLED that like any other foreign human rights organizations, “we do not need lectures from inexpert foreign groups on how to run a nation.”