Palace seeks 'due process' in US House rights panel’s probe

Dharel Placido, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 20 2017 12:37 PM | Updated as of Jul 21 2017 02:43 AM

MANILA – Malacañang on Thursday appealed for “due process” as the human rights panel of the United States House of Representatives conducts a probe into President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs.

The Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, a bi-partisan caucus in the US House of Representatives, has invited resource persons to analyze the implementation of President Rodrigo Duterte's war on drugs and reported extrajudicial killings related to the campaign.

In a news conference, Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said the human rights panel must conducts its hearing “in the context of the scope of the challenge we face and the actions we are taking to address it.”

“The universality of human rights presupposes due process be observed by all,” Abella said.

“Any proceedings that allege wrongdoing should provide opportunity for all sides to be considered. Insinuations and hasty judgments have no place in due process,” he added. 

The Duterte administration has many times defended its drug war against critics, saying reported figures- from 7,000 to 9,000- were overblown.

Latest Philippine National Police (PNP) data show that a total of 3,200 drug personalities were killed in anti-drug operations from July 1, 2016 to June 20, 2017, or 9 killed daily in presumed legitimate anti-drug operations in the first year of the Duterte administration. 

The PNP has also determined that out of the 12,833 homicide cases from July 1, 2016 to June 16, 2017, 2,098 deaths were drug-related and 2,535 non-drug related. A total of 8,200 homicide cases were under investigation "with motives to be determined," the PNP said. 

“Numbers should be verified. Information should be cross-checked so that the ensuing conclusions have a solid basis in fact,” Abella said.

Abella also underscored the need to fight illegal drugs, saying drug trafficking fuels terrorism, one of the major problems of the Duterte administration.

“The Duterte administration’s campaign against illegal drugs is a noble effort to protect the safety of the Filipino people and the future of the nation,” Abella added.

Meanwhile, Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said he has spoken to an adviser of a US senator who assured him that the probe will be “balanced.”

The US, a long-standing Philippine ally, has kept a sharp eye on Duterte's drug war, with some American senators proposing to restrict US arms exports to the Philippines because of the reported abuses. 

Duterte has, meanwhile, lashed out at the US over its criticism of the drug war, vowing to pursue an independent foreign policy that shifts to closer partnerships with non-traditional allies such as China and Russia.