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Rights groups should do better



‘The difference from before is that the administration of Rody is acting resolutely to solve the killings’

Rights groups should level up and show fairness by backing up with solid evidence all their serious allegations against the government instead of just firing off sweeping statements apparently addressed to its European financiers.

Human Rights Watch (HRW), the usual source of vicious noises against the Duterte administration, urged “foreign governments and donors” to reassess their engagement with the Philippines due to the string of killings of priests and journalists.

The HRW, in effect, prejudged the cases it raised and haphazardly linked it to President Rody and his signature anti-narcotics campaign despite the absence of any proof.

HRW said the murders of Catholic priest Father Richmond Nilo on June 10 and journalist Dennis Denora three days earlier and the attacks on peasants and members of tribal communities within the past weeks are matters of grave concern.

Nilo was the third Catholic priest killed in the country in the past seven months.
The statement was accurate since the Palace immediately ordered the police to give priority to the investigation of these cases.

It then, however, immediately jumped into conclusion that “these killings, alongside the thousands of deaths in the “drug war,” are grim reminders of the vulnerability of the poor and those who speak out for their rights and against the deadly extrajudicial violence that Philippine authorities are apparently unwilling or unable to either stop or provide meaning or accountability for.”

Just by stating the drug war, the HRW passed judgment that the government should be cited, either as a suspect in or has tolerated, the deaths of the priests and Davao del Norte-based journalist Dennis Denora.

HRW then said foreign governments and donors should “ensure that any assistance they provide to the Philippine security forces and the judiciary emphasizes accountability and due process.”

It said such assistance should be assured that this is not used in any way “to fund or enable any elements of the military and the police implicated in human rights abuses, including extrajudicial killings.”

The fact, however, is that Rody is encouraging the Church to dialog and provide help to the government in solving the killings.

The Palace said a dialogue between Rody and the prelates will not be hard since the current Secretary-General of CBCP, Archbishop Romulo Valles, is from Davao City which is the President’s hometown.

“Duterte does not have any complaint against the Secretary General of the CBCP,” presidential spokesman Harry Roque said.
Efforts of the Duterte administration to investigate the series of killings that has targeted priests, media practitioners, and prosecutors, are not merely “lip service” unlike in the past, Roque said.

The string of killings is not even peculiar to Rody’s term since the previous Aquino administration has been tagged with engendering a culture of impunity and it was also when the so-called extrajudicial killings (EJK), which Rody’s critics tagged on his administration, began to rise,
The rise in the killings under Noy also prompted rights groups to write to the US Senate urging it to continue to impose restrictions on military funding for the Philippines.

“Every appropriations bill since 2008 has imposed a restriction on foreign military financing to the Philippines because of its military’s alleged involvement in extrajudicial killings,” the human rights groups said in their letter.

The difference from before is that the administration of Rody is acting resolutely to solve the killings while the usual complaints in the past is about the insufficient response of the government.

Rody himself has expressed concern on the rise in the number of killings since among his vow to get the votes of Filipinos for the presidency is to eradicate crime along with the drugs menace.

If it is not Rody ordering the killings, he is responsible for prodding the crime due to his acerbic rants.

Calling for foreign governments to review their dealings with the Philippines as a result of unfounded allegations is also idiotic