The Department of Foreign Affairs on Saturday accused Human Rights Watch of intentionally misleading the international community, after the New York-based advocacy group reported that the human rights situation in the Philippines is at its worst since the time of former President Ferdinand Marcos.
In a statement released Saturday afternoon, Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano accused the group as being “unfair and unjust”.
“We will not allow Human Rights Watch to portray an unfair and unjust image of our country, nor will we let it question the strength of our democracy,” Cayetano said, taking issue with the group’s assessment of the human rights situation in the Philippines in 2017.
In its 2017 Global Report on Human Rights, HRW, which has been consistently critical of President Rodrigo Duterte’s regime, reiterated its claim that the government’s campaign against illegal drugs resulted in the deaths of more than 12,000 persons, mostly the urban poor and including children.
Cayetano slammed the report and accused HRW of politicizing the issue.
“Human Rights Watch has politicized the issue for its own gain and has not done any real research, study or investigation on the human rights situation in the Philippines,” Cayetano said, daring the group to show proof the 12,000 it said were killed were all victims of the government’s war against illegal drugs.
Contrary to HRW’s claims, Cayetano said the number of drug personalities killed is 3,968 in 80,683 anti-illegal drugs operations conducted by the government from July 1, 2016 to Dec. 27, 2017.
The operations, which also led to the arrest of 119,023 drug personalities, also resulted in the deaths of 86 law enforcement officers and the wounding of 226 others, the secretary noted.
Under President Duterte, Cayetano said the Philippines is doing everything it can to protect the rights of everyone, including criminals, unlike before when government was perceived to be protecting only the rights of the powerful.
“It is because this change is disruptive, those who were previously above the law and those who have political interests to advance have resorted to a massive disinformation campaign,” Cayetano said.
“Human Rights Watch is among those that has been deliberately misrepresenting the figures to make it appear that there exists a culture of impunity in the Philippines and that the country’s democratic institutions are at risk. These assertions are unfair to the Philippines and to the Filipino people,” he added.
Democracy “has never been more alive in the Philippines,” Cayetano said, as the country finally has a government “that we can really say is of the people and for the people, and not for the rich and the powerful alone.”
The booming economy is a testament to good governance and adherence to law, he noted.
Proof of this, Cayetano said, are the latest Social Weather Station surveys that showed President Duterte’s public trust rating at 83 percent during the fourth quarter of 2017, and the administration’s public satisfaction rating rising to a record 79 percent during the same period.