Palace counters Karapatan's claims of political executions

MALACAÑANG on Wednesday denied that there have been political executions under the watch of President Rodrigo Duterte.

Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella belied the accusation of rights advocacy group Karapatan Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Right that there are 47 alleged killings of peasants, indigenous peoples and workers considered as human rights defenders under the Duterte administration.

Abella said the latest allegation negates the President’s "long-standing principle" to address problems through a peaceful approach.

“It is not the policy of the Duterte administration to violate citizens’ human rights,” Abella said in a statement.

Abella’s statement came on the heels of Karapatan’s plea to United Nations special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary of arbitrary executions Agnes Callamard to “consider, investigate, make recommendations and take any appropriate actions” on the supposed political executions in the Philippines.

In a letter by Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay addressed to Callamard, a total of 47 cases of political killings have reportedly been documented by the rights advocacy group from July 2016 to March 31, 2017, in line with the government’s continuing counter-insurgency program.

“These killings are all in the context of the counter-insurgency programs implemented from one regime to another that supposedly seek to end the armed rebellion of revolutionary movements in the Philippines,” Palabay said in a letter sent to Callamard on Tuesday.

“These counter-insurgency programs have victimized thousands of Filipinos, including struggling communities, tagged as ‘enemies of the state,’” she added.

Kadamay pinned hope that Callamard could convince Duterte to “completely junk counterinsurgency programs; issue strong warnings to and prosecute EJK (extrajudicial killing) perpetrators; and continue to pursue efforts at attaining just and lasting peace with the NDFP (National Democratic Front) and the Moro liberation movements.”

Abella questioned the latest move by Karapatan, citing that the country’s justice system and domestic institutions “are more than adequate to judge the matter.”

He said Duterte welcomes international probers to “sovereign and democratic” Philippines but certain conditions must be met before they could be able to “come in and interfere with is domestic affairs.”

“Despite the initial setbacks, the [government] and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines continue to pursue peace and seek solutions to the root problems of the age-old armed conflict,” the presidential spokesperson said. (SunStar Philippines)
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