MANILA, Philippines – Rights group Karapatan on Tuesday, March 27, said the government has no one to blame but President Rodrigo Duterte – not human rights organizations – for the Philippines’ failure to resolve the drug problem.
“Malacañang places the blame on human rights organizations for the Duterte administration’s failure to curb the illegal drug problem and accuses them of smearing the country’s reputation,” the group said in a statement.
“In case (Presidential Spokesperson) Harry Roque and (Foreign Secretary) Alan Cayetano haven’t noticed, Duterte did that all by himself, in a path of tyrannical megalomania and unparalleled self-destruction.”
Roque on Monday, March 26, claimed that criticism of Duterte’s campaign against illegal drugs persist partly because groups may be getting funds from drug lords. Human rights groups, he added, could be “unwitting tools of drug lords to hinder strides” by the Duterte administration.
Roque himself used to be a human rights lawyer. (READ: Harry Roque pirouettes for Duterte)
Reacting to Roque’s claims, Karapatan said Malacañang “never seems to run out of fantastic tales and labels.”
In a nation often referred to as one of the most dangerous countries to be a human rights defender, Karapatan said Roque’s statement linking advocates with drug lords may further endanger their lives.
“With these recent accusations, Malacañang is either cooking up a scenario that will justify a massive Tokhang-style killing of activists or it is one of those attempts to evade accountability from domestic and international human rights instruments,” the group said.
According to critics, the Palace’s move to connect drug lords to human rights workers is reflective of Duterte’s overall stance against criticism and dissent. Advocates have slammed the administration’s efforts to “demonize” them as they continue to demand accountability for abuses.
In 2017, Front Line Defenders said in its annual report that 80% of deaths of human rights defenders took place in 4 countries: Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, and the Philippines.
At least 4 human rights workers have been killed under the Duterte administration so far. They include Karapatan Negros Oriental coordinator Elisa Badayos, Bicol paralegal Edwin Pura, Catholic priest Fr Marcelito Paez, and Moro human rights activist Billamin Turabin Hasan. – Rappler.com