Palace OKs rights probe of Duterte

THE Palace said Sunday it supported the Commission on Human Rights decision to investigate presidential aspirant and Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, who admitted to killing criminals without an investigation or a trial.

Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte
“As a democratic country, we conform to the principle of the rule of law. We recognize that every citizen has the right to be given protection by our Constitution and other laws, including the right to live, and the right to be given due process on any legal action,” said Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr., in an interview over state-run radio station dzRB. 

“That is why the CHR is doing its duty to know the truth on the allegations of human rights violations [against Duterte],” Coloma said.

“Whoever they are referring to, the implementation of the law should be fair,” Coloma added.

On his own radio program Sunday, Duterte hit back at the administration candidate Manuel Roxas II, who said the reputation of Davao as a safe city was a myth.

“I’d like to ask [him], you claim that you have graduated from the Wharton School of Economics, that is a myth. You did not graduate from the Wharton School of Economics, Mr. Roxas. Your name is not on the list of those who graduated from four- or five-year degree courses. Ask Wharton. Show me [a photo] of you wearing a toga at Wharton, with your mother at your graduation,” Duterte said.

The CHR earlier formed a special fact-finding team to investigate Duterte’s supposed role in executing suspected outlaws in his city.

CHR chairman Chito Gascon said Saturday the probe was triggered by Duterte’s own repeated admission of killing several persons accused of heinous crimes.

In a recent radio interview, Duterte recalled the instance when he shot to death three men who abducted a Chinese girl.

In a speech after the PDP-Laban proclaimed him as its standard bearer,  Duterte also hinted at how he punishes drug traffickers.

“I said, do not go to Davao [or] you will die. Others who went there, they died. When their bodies were sprawled there, I said play Mona Lisa, that’s the theme song of these animals. They just lie there and they die there,” Duterte said.

Gascon said the CHR fact-finding team will start gathering complaints of human rights violation against Davao’s local chief executive and search for possible prior cases against him.

The commission also reiterated its appeal to Justice Department and the Philippine National Police to conduct a separate probe on Duterte.

Human Rights Watch earlier denounced Duterte for the Davao Death Squad that has killed over 1,000 suspected criminals since the late 1990s.

Amnesty International Philippines also said it was disturbed by the presidential candidacy of Duterte.

But presidential candidate Vice President Jejomar Binay on Sunday slammed the Aquino administration for failing to make Filipinos feel safe amid an increase in the country’s crime rate.

The increasing number of crimes is alarming. Government should do all it can to protect its constituents, especially those in the marginalized sector: the children, the women and the elderly,” Binay said.

He noted that economic growth is senseless if people don’t feel safe and secure in their surroundings. 

“How can we enjoy development if we are scared to go out of our house?” he said.

Binay cited data from the Philippine National Police, showing a total of 885,445 crimes reported from January to June, higher than the 603,085 incidents during the same period last year.

 The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency also reported 17,619 drug-related cases filed in various courts nationwide in 2014.

The Vice President also condemned the increased attacks on media practitioners.

“Freedom of the press is vital in a democracy. The rising cases of media practitioners being killed or pressured because of their jobs shows government’s failure to keep its people safe,” Binay said.

“The fact that no suspects involved in media killings have been convicted in the past 13 years will only enforce our notorious tag of being one of the most dangerous places for journalists to work,” he added.

Recently, armed men attempted to take over a radio station in Iloilo City. The PDEA-Western Visayas has concluded the incident to be drug-related as the radio station had a program, Aksyon Night Patrol, that aired critical commentaries on the proliferation of illegal drugs in the province.

“We should encourage freedom of expression, not curtail it. It is appalling that journalists are being pressured for simply doing their job. Violence against the members of the press has no place in a democratic and civilized society,” Binay said.

The Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption estimated that from January-June 2015, there were 46 rapes a day, 40  murders a day, and 36 homicides daily.

“Three journalists were murdered in August. Three judges were shot dead in a span of three months. A number of extrajudicial killings were also recorded. I call on our police to help ensure the safety of our citizens and see to that that they remain free from harassment and acts of violence,” Binay said. With Macon Ramos-Araneta

Topics: Mayor Duterte , rights probe of Duterte
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