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Palace to CHR: Duterte leaves legacy of ‘safe, secure’ Phl, not impunity

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Malacañang took exception to the Commission on Human Rights’ report alleging that the Duterte administration failed to protect human rights and encouraged a culture of impunity by blocking drug war investigations.

Acting presidential spokesperson Secretary Martin Andanar said the Palace sees a “rehash of old issues” in the CHR’s 48-page expanded report that was released this week.

“In contrast to what a handful of critics would want the international community to hear and read about our country, the Duterte administration leaves a legacy of a safe and secure Philippines,” he said through a statement Thursday.

The Palace official claimed that inbound travelers found themselves safe in the country.

He said it was affirmed by government data showing that the crime rate in the Philippines was reduced by half, or from 2.7 million crimes in 2010 to 2015 to 1.35 million crimes from 2016 to this year.

Andanar also said the administration’s efforts were validated by high satisfaction, performance, approval, and trust ratings of President Rodrigo Duterte.

“While we see a rehash of old issues in the report of the CHR that have already been responded to, we are pleased that this body has independently exercised its mandate — a testament to how the Duterte administration has allowed our democratic civic space to be enriched under his term,” he said.

“Nonetheless, we ask the CHR to coordinate with the Presidential Human Rights Committee Secretariat so that its recommendations may be discussed with all the government offices it has put to task,” Andanar added.

The CHR claimed the administration hindered its efforts to access police documents vital to its investigations into extrajudicial killings during the brutal drug war.

It added that “subpoenas and requests for submission of documents were oftentimes refused, denied, or ignored” by the Philippine National Police even if CHR investigators followed guidelines and directives in obtaining information.

In effect, the government “encouraged a culture of impunity that shields perpetrators from being held to account,” the commission said in the report.

The CHR also urged the Office of the President to revise or remove the exceptions used as the basis to deny the commission access to police records.

The Internal Affairs Service of the Philippine National Police, Department of Justice, and the Office of the Ombudsman were also asked to conduct a prompt, thorough, and impartial investigation of erring police officers and to file appropriate charges.

Last year, the International Criminal Court’s pre-trial chamber allowed its prosecutor to conduct a full-blown investigation into alleged human rights abuses committed by policemen during Duterte’s drug war.

The Philippine president, however, declared that he would not cooperate with the ICC probe by arguing that the country’s judicial system is capable of addressing such concerns.

Since Duterte assumed the highest government post in July 2016, more than 6,200 suspects have been killed in anti-drug operations by the police, based on government records.

Concerned groups pegged the fatalities at 20,000, including those killed by unknown gunmen.

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