Palace strikes back at lawyers’ group over EJK allegations

Violations of the rule of law in business and allegations of extrajudicial killings have never kept foreign investments from entering the country, the Palace said Monday, slamming a group of lawyers who said otherwise.

“I think, whoever said that they should conduct more research of that,” Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said in a Palace press briefing, contesting the conclusion made by LawAsia president Christopher Leong.

In his speech during a law business conference themed “Keeping Abreast with Asian Business Law Developments,” Leong said the government needs to address the controversies about the rule of law and the supposed extrajudicial killings as these affect the confidence of foreign investors in starting businesses in the country.

“We have heard and read in the papers lately of questionable extrajudicial deaths that raise a big concern whether or not justified but it raises concerns and questions as to the state of the rule of law in the Philippines and that is unfortunate,” Leong said, emphasizing that the government should consider  the short-term and long-term effects of how officials and authorities curb crimes.

The LawAsia president also emphasized the need to have a firm, respectable, and skilled lawyers and said the judiciary must also be stable, independent, and corruption-free.

“Corruption weighs down business growth. It is an unproductive cost to business,” he said.

Leong also said that LawAsia remains concerned about the deaths of lawyers, prosecutors, and judges.

But Panelo said investors have never raised the issues that Leong did.

“According to our economic managers, particularly [Finance] Secretary Dominguez, [Socioeconomic Planning] Secretary Ernesto Pernia [Trade] Secretary Ramon Lopez, they are one in saying that the issue of human rights or extrajudicial killings has never been raised during meetings with investors and other conferences relative to the business investments to this country,” he said in the same briefing.

He said foreign investments, in fact, have increased.

Panelo said the administration recognized red tape as a disincentive, and that law has already been passed to reduce bureaucratic red tape.

He added that there are more foreign investors coming into the country because they know that criminality has gone down considerably.

He said the conclusion that a lawyer dies every month was an exaggeration.

“One death of a lawyer every month, I think he’s daydreaming,” he said.

Malacañang has previously maintained that the Duterte administration does not tolerate state-sanctioned killing, stressing that there is no impunity in the country and its criminal justice system remains operational and strictly compliant with the constitutional requirement to due process.

LawAsia is a regional association of lawyers, judges, jurists and legal organizations that uphold the interests and concerns of the legal profession in the Asia Pacific.

Panelo, meanwhile, blamed the political opposition for demonizing the President and his administration’s crackdown on illegal drugs.

Topics: extrajudicial killings , Salvador Panelo , Christopher Leong , LawAsia
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