MALACAÑANG denounced Friday a statement by Amnesty International Philippines (AIP) that the country has become “a far more dangerous place” on President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s watch.
“There is no truth to the statement of Amnesty International (Philippines),” Presidential Spokesperson Harry L. Roque, Jr. said in a statement.
“We reiterate that the Administration’s campaign against illegal drugs is conducted through legitimate police enforcement operations, and deaths arising from these are due to the drug personalities’ violent resistance to lawful apprehensions,” he added, noting as well that the same survey found majority of Filipinos support the President’s anti-drug campaign.
Mr. Roque also cited a Social Weather Station survey that showed victims of common crimes declined to a record-low 6.1% in 2017, while property crimes sunk to 5.6%, the lowest in 28 years.
The spokesman issued his statement following AIP’s statement on Thursday, attributed to Section Director Jose Noel Olano, saying that Mr. Duterte’s “human rights agenda basically went on a downward spiral” since he assumed office two years ago.
“Abandoning human rights values and principles is a failure on his part and comes with a huge cost of essentially guaranteeing that the no one can ever be safe because the country has become a far more dangerous place,” the statement also said, adding:
“President Duterte has actively created a climate where anyone can kill or be killed, the poor were the obvious prey but more recently even government officials. This situation has given anyone a free reign to commit human rights abuses and violations with impunity where social and political division thrive, leading to greater potential for human rights violations.”
Amnesty International, a Nobel Prize-winning advocacy group, has been monitoring human rights in the Philippines since the Marcos dictatorship. Since 2010, the group said it has “forwarded its human rights policy recommendations to all past Philippine Presidents.”
“The same was updated for President Duterte in 2016. The 5-Point Human Rights Agenda was also given to Duterte for him to prioritize on his first 100 days. Apart from his speech on human rights during his first SONA in 2016 and another joint statement with President Trump during the latter’s visit in 2017, stating that ‘human rights and the dignity of human life are essential’, Duterte has not yet presented any clear written human rights agenda for his administration,” AIP said.
Mr. Roque also issued a statement on Friday condemning the killing of Legazpi City radio broadcaster Joey Llana on Friday.
The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) said in a statement that Mr. Llana, “a blocktimer of radio station dwZR in Legazpi City, Albay(,) was killed by unidentified gunmen as he was leaving his home in Brgy. Penafrancia, Daraga town(,) at around 4:45 am Friday, July 20, 2018.”
The broadcaster, 38, “was on his way to host his program, Metrobanat, which aired from 5:30 to 7(:00) a.m.,” said NUJP, which also cited “(l)ocal radio reports (that) Llana was shot 14 times with .45 caliber and 9mm pistols.”
“If (his murder is) proven to be related to his work, his death would be the 12th media killing under President Rodrigo Duterte, the third in Bicol and the 185th since 1986,” the group also said.
Mr. Roque, in his statement, said: “We strongly condemn the killing of radio reporter Joey Llana in Daraga, Albay, as yet another infringement on the rights to life and a free press. The Presidential Task Force on Media Security (PTFoMS) will be relentless in according justice to this latest victim.”
The Presidential Task Force on Media Security is an interagency task force formed under Mr. Duterte’s Administrative Order No. 1 issued on October 11, 2016. It is headed by the secretaries of the Department of Justice (DoJ) and the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO).
In separate statements, Senators Juan Edgardo M. Angara and Grace S. Poe-Llamanzares, chair of the Senate commitee on public information and mass media, and Juan Edgardo M. Angara urged authorities to conduct an immediate investigation on the incident.
“The increasing number of killings of journalists and the slow resolution of cases embolden those who carry out the attacks against the members of the media. Let us not allow the culture of impunity to claim more lives,” Ms. Llamanzares said.
“This violence against a practicing journalist deserves no less than condemnation, as it has no place in a civilized society like ours… We cannot allow fear and impunity to reign in a democratic society,” Mr. Angara said for his part. — Charmaine A. Tadalan and Camille A. Aguinaldo