Public lawyer to CHR: Why defend Abu Sayyaf?

Dharel Placido, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 09 2017 05:06 PM

Persida Acosta Manny Palmero, ABS-CBN News (File Photo)

MANILA – Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) chief Persida Rueda Acosta on Tuesday castigated the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) for seemingly promoting the activities of terror group Abu Sayyaf by launching an investigation into the death of one of its members at the hands of the police.

The CHR in Central Visayas (CHR-7) recently created a fact-finding group to probe the circumstances leading to the death of Abu Saad, who was killed supposedly while escaping.

Acosta said, if the CHR can probe the Abu Sayyaf members’ death, it must also not forget the terror group’s atrocities, such as the beheading of its captives.

“Ang suggestion ko sa CHR, kung iimbestigahan nila ang mga napatay na Abu Sayyaf during encounters o kaya in the hands of law enforcers during their detention, imbestigahan din sana nila yung mga sitwasyon na ang Abu Sayyaf namumugot ng ulo, pumapatay at kondenahin din nila ang Abu Sayyaf, para patas po,” Acosta said in a news briefing.

“Kasi baka ang maging dating lang — pasintabi sa CHR — mas palalakahin mo ang advocacy ng Abu Sayyaf kesa sa advocacy ng pulis.”

CHR-7 chief investigator Leo Villarino earlier said they have already dispatched their personnel to collate reports and interview possible witnesses in Bohol.

The "unusual" dawn transfer of Abu Saad from the Bohol Provincial to the District Jail prompted the Human Rights office to make queries.

Villarino clarified they were not pinning the blame on government troops, but the agency wanted to clear doubts about Saad's death.

Abu Saad was supposedly among the bandits responsible for the attacks in Inabanga, Bohol, which left several people dead.

The mandate of the CHR was once the subject of a debate among netizens and government officials, as the constitutionally independent body has been criticized for calling the attention of the Duterte administration to the killings linked to the war on drugs.

Like Acosta, critics of the CHR say the commission must also investigate violations to the rights of state actors, such as the police and the military.

However, some said CHR must serve as a safeguard against abuses committed by state actors.