Palace blasts ‘thoughtless, irresponsible’ HRW report

Pia Ranada
Palace blasts ‘thoughtless, irresponsible’ HRW report

LeAnne Jazul

Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella tells groups looking into the Duterte government's drug war to 'do their homework more diligently before attempting to engage in propaganda'

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang on Thursday, March 2, dismissed as “thoughtless and irresponsible” a Human Rights Watch report which alleged that the Philippine National Police (PNP) is behind the extrajudicial killings in the Duterte administration’s drug war.

The 117-page report released on Thursday claimed that the killings in the Philippine government’s war on drugs constitute a “war on humanity.”

“A war on criminality is not a war on humanity. On the contrary, it is a war precisely to protect humanity from a modern-day evil,” countered Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella.

Any opposition or mislabeling of such a campaign against criminals, said Abella, is “to pander to the interests of the criminals.”

He also dismissed as a mere allegation the HRW claim that police plant evidence to justify shooting suspects during anti-drug operations.

“Planting ‘evidence’ to justify police action is an allegation, nothing more. It must be substantiated by solid evidence, eyewitness account, and sworn statement or affidavit,” said the spokesman.

At a Senate hearing on the death of South Korean businessman Jee Ick Joo, Senator Panfilo Lacson showed CCTV footage of police allegedly planting drugs in an office to justify a supposed drug raid. (WATCH: Rogue cops in action)

‘Prove claims in court’

Repeating a line often used by President Rodrigo Duterte when facing criticism, Abella said HRW should prove its claims in court.

“Failing these, such claims are mere hearsay,” he said.

Abella then cited the government’s drug rehabilitation programs and the 1.1 million drug suspects who have surrendered to authorities since the Duterte administration took over.

He then asked “special interest groups” to “do their homework more diligently before attempting to engage in propaganda.”

Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo also blasted the HRW report, which examined 24 incidents resulting in 32 deaths, as “full of fabrication” and “without basis.”

He gave his own theory about who might be behind the extrajudicial killings.

“The extrajudicial killings are the result of surrenderees pointing to their comrades-in-arms in the drug trade and this co-conspirator of the drug trade involved in the illegal industry will silence them because they will not allow themselves to be jailed,” said Panelo.

The police list 2,555 people killed allegedly in self-defense by the police in various operations. At least 3,603 are listed as deaths under investigation. – 

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Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada is a senior reporter for Rappler covering Philippine politics and environmental issues. For tips and story suggestions, email her at