Philippines tells int'l orgs: Give us chance to probe activist killings

Jamaine Punzalan, ABS CBN News

Posted at Mar 11 2021 02:19 PM | Updated as of Mar 11 2021 02:32 PM

Philippines tells int'l orgs: Give us chance to probe activist killings 1
Human rights advocates hold a protest at the Liwasang Diokno Freedom Park on Wednesday to condemn police operations in Southern Tagalog that claimed the lives of 9 activists and led to the arrest of 6 members of different people’s organizations. Jire Carreon, ABS-CBN News

MANILA — Malacañang on Thursday told international groups to give the Philippines a chance to investigate and carry out justice over police raids that killed 9 activists over the weekend.

This, as the United Nations Human Rights Council condemned the slays, saying it was “appalled” by Sunday's killings of activists amid government's red-tagging of human rights advocates or accusing them of fronting for the armed wing of the communist party.

The Philippine justice department is looking into these killings, said Palace spokesman Harry Roque. 

“Walang lugar ang impunity sa administrasyong Duterte. Mananagot ang sinuman na lumabag sa batas at mapaparusahan sa ilalim ng ating batas,” Roque said in a press briefing, addressing the UN and rights groups. 

(Impunity has no place in the Duterte administration. Anyone who violated the law would be held accountable and punished under our laws.)
 
“Kinakailangan malaman ang katotohanan so bigyan lang po natin ng pagkakataon na magkaroon ng isang patas na imbestigasyon ang Department of Justice,” he added. 

(We need to know the truth so let us just give a chance for the Department of Justice to hold a fair investigation.)

The European Union on Wednesday reminded the Philippines that it agreed with the bloc "on the need to acknowledge and to protect human rights defenders and enable their work in accordance with the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders." 

“Reports on the use of excessive force against unarmed individuals and alleged irregularities in the law enforcement operations have raised concerns,” the EU said in a statement.

Addressing the EU, Roque, once a human rights lawyer, repeated his appeal: “Please give the Philippines a chance to discharge its obligation to investigate, punish and prosecute those who may have breached our domestic laws.”

Video courtesy of PTV

Rights groups have accused President Rodrigo Duterte of encouraging a crackdown on activists to silence dissent and target his detractors under the guise of intensified counter-insurgency operations against communist rebels.

His government has said Sunday's killings were lawful and legitimate operations, but has promised a full investigation.

Rights groups said those killed in Sunday's raids were activists, not combatants.

Their deaths came 2 days after Duterte told security forces they could kill communist rebels if they were holding a gun, and to "ignore human rights."

Activists said the raids were reminiscent of thousands of deadly police operations under Duterte's bloody anti-drug crackdown, in which police said all of the victims were armed and had resisted arrest.

Critics accuse Duterte of openly encouraging police to kill drug suspects. His office rejects that.

— With a report from Reuters