MALACAÑANG on Tuesday, November 21, blasted the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) for its failure to launch an investigation into the crimes perpetrated by the Maute terrorists, particularly in war-ravaged Marawi City.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the international humanitarian law punishes both government agents and non-state agents.
He slammed the CHR for noticing only the shortcomings of state agents and ignoring the atrocities that the Maute group committed. The CHR has been critical of the Duterte government's unabated, brutal war on illegal drugs.
"So far, I’ve not heard (of) any investigation conducted by the CHR on the atrocities committed by the Mautes," Roque told Palace reporters.
"It is always atrocities allegedly committed by state agents ‘no. And their position has been consistent, the role is to document abuses of human rights committed by state agents which is wrong, because international humanitarian law punishes everyone even non-state actors," he added.
Roque said the Duterte administration would take initiative in conducting an investigation against members of the Maute group since the CHR "will not be any help" in attaining justice for the victims of Marawi crisis.
"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 the international humanitarian law which is the domestic law implementing the second additional protocol to the Geneva Conventions, otherwise known as punishing war crimes committed in non-international armed conflicts," Duterte's spokesman said.
"We will do this knowing that the CHR will not be any help in according victims of the Maute terrorist groups justice," he added.
Roque's statement was in response to CHR Commissioner Roberto Eugenio Cadiz's remark on Monday, November 20, challenging the spokesperson to take a stand amid threats to the rule of law.
Cadiz, in a speech before the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, likewise lambasted President Rodrigo Duterte, whom he called an advocate of "extrajudicial killings," for attacking those who express adverse opinions on the bloody campaign against illegal drugs.
"The challenge to human rights defenders and the legal profession today, first and foremost, is to be brave -- to be brave in speaking truth to power; to go beyong legalese or legal gobbledygook, to realize the relevance of the legal profession, rather than rationalize its limitations," Cadiz said.
"We now have a President who openly advocates extrajudicial killings -- let us not beat around the bush on this -- and who has been very successful in creating the narrative that human rights is an obstacle to his anti-drug campaign," he added.
Duterte has earned heavy criticisms from the public, including the human rights groups, for the killings in line with the war against the narcotics trade. (SunStar Philippines)