MALACAÑANG on Monday ignored the US State Department’s statement of concern regarding the Philippines’ war on drugs and would instead pay heed to President Donald Trump’s declaration of support for President Rodrigo Duterte’s anti-drug campaign.
The State Department said “killings by security forces” were among the most significant human rights issues in Palace the Philippines and this should be a priority concern of the US government.
In a press briefing in Malacañang, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque admitted that it is difficult to reconcile the State Department’s statement with Trump’s pronouncement of full support.
“If you know the Secretary of State was recently changed, so I do not know how much input of the former Secretary of State had in drafting that final report,” Roque said.
“I personally heard the discussion between President Trump and President Duterte when they were here in the Philippines during the Asean Summit and I think I heard words from President Trump praising President Duterte, including the war on drugs. If I’m not mistaken, President Trump said he knows what he’s doing in the Philippines. So I do not know how to reconcile the State Department report with the actual statement of the President,” Roque said.
“But for now, we were going by the statements of President Trump that we all heard from the mouth of President Trump,” he said.
“We prefer to hold on to the words of President Trump. He is after all the President,” Roque said.
Earlier, the US State Department alleged that extrajudicial killings and increase in police impunity remain the most significant human rights concerns in the Philippines.
It said EJKs have been the chief human rights concern in the country for many years and, after a sharp rise with the onset of the anti-drug campaign in 2016.
The report is the latest expression of alarm by the US government against Duterte’s deadly war on drugs and other related issues despite his better relations with President Donald Trump.
Meanwhile, the Justice department said it would be fair in deciding the fate of the 71-year-old Australian nun, Patricia Fox, who has been accused of interfering in local politics.
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said the DoJ would uniformly apply the country’s immigration laws on the 71-year-old nun’s case regardless of her political affiliations and reported links with militant groups.
“Our action will be based on the factual findings of the Bureau of Immigration. Our immigration laws shall be fairly and uniformly applied,” Guevarra said, in an interview.
“While she was released from temporary detention, Sister Patricia’s case is still undergoing investigation,” the DoJ chief said.
Under the law, the BI may issue the immediate deportation of Fox should it find after investigation that she violated the immigration law through issuance of a Summary Deportation Order.
However, the SDO could be appealed before the BI board of commissioners, whose decision could also be reviewed by the Secretary of Justice.
Guevarra also reiterated that the government has a “sovereign right to restrict the participation of aliens in domestic political activities and internal affairs of our country.”
He said the government is ready to defend this policy enforced through a BI order before any court.
President Duterte himself has repeatedly warned foreigners from intruding in political affairs and vowed to have them arrested and kicked out of the country.
The National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL) is reportedly planning to file a case in court to question government’s policy and the arrest of Fox. The Commission on Human Rights is also set to investigate the case.
Fox, an advocate of land reform, was arrested by BI agents last April 16 for allegedly joining protest rallies against the government. She was released the following day for further investigation.