MANILA, Philippines – The full footage of the international forum that featured Vice President Leni Robredo’s video message criticizing the drug war was released online on Tuesday, May 2.
The 55-minute video was released on the same day that Robredo’s critics asked lawmakers to endorse an impeachment complaint against the Vice President, accusing her of betraying public trust, culpably violating the Constitution, and graft and corruption.
“Our hope in releasing the full footage of our event – which included both critics and defenders of the government – is that discussion might return to the real issues at stake,” said David Borden, executive director of the non-governmental organization DRC Net Foundation, which organized the event.
Robredo was accused of trying to destabilize the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte by criticizing the extrajudicial killings linked to its bloody crackdown against drugs.
The video message was played at the NGO’s event, which was held on the sidelines of the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs meeting in Vienna, Austria, last March.
The Duterte administration partly blames Robredo’s video for the European Union’s resolution in March that warned the Philippines could lose trade incentives over the human rights situation.
Fact-checking by Rappler, however, showed that the EU resolution did not cite Robredo’s video as a basis for its warning.
In a statement, Borden said it was a “strange spectacle” to see public figures ignore Duterte’s own repeated calls for mass killings against drug criminals who fight back, while attacking Robredo “for raising legitimate concerns” about it.
“The international community isn’t focused on the Philippines’ drug war killings because Vice President Robredo recorded a video; it’s that President Duterte promised mass killings and appears to have delivered them,” he said.
Borden added that House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, who said he was considering filing an impeachment complaint against Robredo over the video message, had “mischaracterized” the forum.
“Speaker Alvarez mischaracterized our event when he claimed without evidence that the Vice President’s video was timed to coincide with the impeachment complaint against the President and the European Parliament resolution on Senator [Leila] de Lima. He stopped saying that after I provided documentation to the contrary to Philippine media,” Borden said.
“But it’s that initial lie which gave the drive to impeach Vice President Robredo the momentum it needed to really start,” he added.
Aside from Robredo, the forum also featured presentations by Commission on Human Rights Chairperson Chito Gascon, former Thai prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, and other experts.
Borden also listed some key takeaways from the event. He noted that out of more than 2,500 cases of drug suspects killed in police operations, the justice department has not yet filed criminal charges against police officers – “an implausible outcome if investigations were being done seriously,” Borden said.
He added that Duterte’s public statements encouraging the killing of criminals who fight back constitute “inducement to commit crimes against humanity, and are sufficient on their own to hold him liable.” – Rappler.com