Palace hits ‘baseless’ US report on PH human rights situation

MANILA – Malacañang on Saturday slammed the “baseless” report of the United States Department of State on the current human rights situation in the Philippines, calling them “old and recycled” issues hurled at President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration.

The 2021 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices released Tuesday claimed that the US received “credible” information on the supposed human rights violations perpetrated by Philippine security forces.

In a press statement, acting Presidential Spokesperson, Communications Secretary Martin Andanar, said the report merely showed the weakness of the US’s intelligence gathering.

“We consider the reports utterly devoid of bases,” Andanar said. “The United States has once again displayed how (infirm) its intelligence gathering is with its recent claim of ‘credible’ reports of human rights violations by the Philippine government in its State Department’s 2021 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices.”

“If at all, the reports are nothing but a rehash of old and recycled issues by the perennial detractors of the Duterte administration,” he added.

The US State Department reported the “numerous” human rights abuses committed “by and on behalf of the (Philippine) government and non-state actors.”

The alleged “significant” human rights issues in the country include unlawful or arbitrary killings, reports of forced disappearance, torture, harsh and life-threatening prison conditions, and arbitrary detention.

Andanar maintained that the allegations against the Duterte government, including the supposed violations of law enforcement officers involved in the fight against illegal drugs, “have all previously been addressed.”

He advised the US State Department to coordinate with the Philippine government for the verification of the reported human rights abuses in the country.

“We strongly suggest that the United States State Department validate reports that reach their office, triangulate the same with all other open and institutional sources, and put to work its political officers in the US embassy in the Philippines who can then properly verify the same with the Philippine government. Engaged verification is key in all this,” he said.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana had a similar reaction in another statement Friday as he questioned the report and challenged the US State Department to provide details for the Commission on Human Rights to verify.

“If proven accurate, the perpetrators will be punished. Absent these data, the accusations are nothing but innuendos and witch hunt. At worst, the State Department has become a gullible victim of black propaganda,” he posted on Facebook. (PNA)