Thursday, June 20, 2019

Panelo: Tribunal's ruling vs Duterte a 'piece of political litter'

MANILA. In this file photo, President Rodrigo Duterte discusses matters with Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol, Land Bank of the Philippines President and CEO Alex Buenaventura, and Development Bank of the Philippines Chairman Alberto Romulo during a meeting at the Malacañan Palace on September 19, 2018. (Presidential file photo)

THE guilty verdict of the International People's Tribunal (IPT) on President Rodrigo Duterte was nothing but a “piece of political litter,” Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo said.

Panelo downplayed the IPT's ruling against Duterte, which he said was based on a “one-sided and shallow” assessment of the current situation in the Philippines.

He stressed that the International Court based in Brussels, Belgium was merely being used by Duterte's political enemies, including the Left-leaning groups, to fulfill their desperate move to undermine the President “both in the international and local communities.

“Another vulnerable foreign organization has been used as a tool by the skeptics of the President in a futile attempt to destroy his image and repute both in the international and local communities,” he said in a statement released Friday night, September 21.

“It is apparent that the decision of the International People’s Tribunal finding the President liable for concocted violations of human rights resulted from a one-sided and shallow study of the country’s current situation. It is, therefore, to be treated as nothing but a piece of political litter,” he added.

The IPT has found Duterte guilty of human rights violations, citing “heart-wrenching, traumatic, and horrific” testimonies of witnesses on alleged incidents.

Duterte was charged for “gross and systematic violations of human rights,” in connection with extrajudicial killings, the implementation of martial law in Mindanao, the country's weak economic base, violence against women, attacks on press freedom, and increased presence of the United States troops.

The ruling is expected to be forwarded to the United Nations Human Rights Council, the European Parliament, and the International Criminal Court.

Panelo shrugged off Duterte's supposed conviction for human rights abuses, noting that the ITP was the same court that also declared former presidents Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and Benigno Aquino III guilty of human rights violations.

“We should not overlook reports that this same tribunal has never been pleased or satisfied with any administration,” he said.

“Given these, it is difficult to dismiss the strong probability that this manipulative practice by personalities from the Left is being undertaken as another leverage to succumb to their blue-sky demands.”

Panelo said Duterte's critics should have instead filed complaints against the Chief Executive before the country's competent courts, as they could “very able and willing to hear cases in relation thereto.”

“Detractors of the President should instead seek redress from our local courts should there be indeed abuses or violations resulting from the government’s campaign versus narcotics, crusade against criminality and corruption or operations for counterinsurgency,” he said.

“These courts are more cognizant of the current state of affairs of our country while very able and willing to hear cases in relation thereto,” he added.

He said the opposition forces' failed attempt to undermine the Duterte government “must not only be perceived as a useless exercise of political dissent but must also be denounced as a practice which undermines the sovereignty of our country and destabilizes our progress as a nation.”

But as for the government, Panelo guaranteed that it would maintain its serious efforts in implementing the law “equally but harshly against those who violate it, regardless of social status or political color.”

“It shall as well continue its support in favor of its officers and personnel with a qualification that they should perform their duties in strict abidance of our laws,” Panelo said. (SunStar Philippines)


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