Harry Roque headed to Marawi for cases vs Maute group
MANILA, Philippines – Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque will head to Marawi City on Wednesday, November 22, for a fact-finding mission to prepare cases against Maute Group members for human rights violations.
"Tomorrow, we are going to conduct our first press briefing in Marawi. And one of our tasks is to gather as many information on the cases that we can file against members of the Maute terrorist group for violations of international humanitarian law," Roque said on Tuesday, November 21.
Roque said he has taken it upon himself to file the case since he does not expect the Commission on Human Rights to look into war-time atrocities by the Muslim extremists.
"I’ve not heard any investigation conducted by the CHR on the atrocities committed by the Mautes. It is always atrocities allegedly committed by state agents," said the spokesman.
Roque, a lawyer who once taught international law, said the CHR is also duty-bound to investigate human rights violations by non-state agents like the terrorists who took over Marawi.
"Someone has to take up the cudgels for the victims of war crimes in domestic armed conflicts," said Roque.
He also took exception to a remark by CHR Commissioner Roberto Cadiz that "a lawyer aided and abetted by other lawyers" are mocking "justice, human rights, and the rule of law."
Roque challenged Cadiz to name the lawyers he was referring to.
"I’d like to challenge Commissioner Cadiz, name names. Who is the lawyer who he alleges to be making a mockery out of the rule of law and human rights?" said Roque.
Duterte, a lawyer, continues to wage a bloody war against drugs that has left thousands of suspects dead in police operations. There have also been thousands of "deaths under investigation," including incidents of extrajudicial killings.
The President has denied the government's involvement in summary killings and emphasized that policemen should only shoot suspects if they fight back.
Roque's call is in line with the repeated demand of the Duterte administration and its allies for the CHR to investigate human rights abuses of enemies of the state, as well as criminals.
When the CHR's proposed 2018 budget was initially cut to P1,000, lawmakers accused the commission of being selective in prioritizing alleged cases of abuse by state forces such as soldiers and police.
CHR chairman Chito Gascon had defended the agency, and maintained that it is fulfilling its mandate. Created through the 1987 Philippine Constitution, the CHR is tasked to investigate allegations of human rights abuses by state actors such as the military or police. (READ: Accountability and human rights: The role of the CHR) – Rappler.com