THE regional Commission on Human Rights (CHR) chief said Wednesday Councilor Paolo Duterte has the right to defend his family.
CHR in Davao Region Director Alberto Sipaco was reacting to the councilor's statement denying allegations linking his family's name to the Davao Death Squad and private armies.
Sipaco said that making unjustified allegations violates a person or a family's privacy.
"I believe there is no basis in the allegations; I have not known any fact that the Dutertes maintained a private army, as far as this office is concerned," he said.
"Paolo (Duterte) has every reason to refute these irresponsible allegations," Sipaco told Sun.Star Davao.
"They may be in politics but that doesn't mean they cannot be onion-skinned," he added.
On the issue of the Davao Death Squad (DDS), Sipaco said there have already been public inquiries last year under previous commissioner Leila de Lima to prove the existence of the group.
"However, I am not in the position to comment because the commission has not yet disclosed their findings," Sipaco said.
Paolo Duterte, in his privilege speech in Tuesday's City Council session, denied the existence of a vigilante group and lashed at a national TV report, which placed the Dutertes on the spotlight.
He said here is no need for private armies in the city because "this is a peace loving city."
"A prominent media organization again brought before their news about the Duterte's alleged maintaining of private armies and its involvement and link with the Davao Death Squad or commonly known as DDS. These issues are not of novelty values. These have been raised several times and to date, nothing has been proven to indeed charge us of the same," said Duterte, who is chair of the Association of Barangay Captains.
Meanwhile, Sipaco echoed the same sentiment as Duterte in urging the media to be more conscientious in their field of work.
Sipaco reminded media practitioners that they should practice freedom of expression without offending the rights of others.
"We have always abhorred the presence of private armies," Sipaco said.
"But if you don't have enough facts and evidences, it is unwise to make allegations," he added.
When asked about Etta Rosales' possible appointment as CHR commissioner, Sipaco said that Rosales was formerly a partylist member in the House of Representatives and was known as an advocate for human rights.
"The CHR is well in the implementation and prosecution of its programs and thrusts. Whatever results May 2010 has brought or whoever replaces as CHR head will not change the approaches that CHR 11 has always employed," Sipaco said. (Marie Angeli A. Laxa)