Already in the crosshairs of the International Criminal Court (ICC) for human rights abuses in his bloody war on drugs, President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday night warned the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) not to threaten the police and said he would block the opening of records detailing police operations.
The President made the warning in his public address Monday night, added that law enforcement records and state secrets cannot be divulged to the public as this could hinder police drug operations and investigations.
He said the proliferation of illegal drugs has been going on for years and there are current surges in the number of deaths of drug suspects because of an intensified police anti-drug campaign.
Duterte said an earlier investigation conducted against him found nothing.
The President also defended the police, claiming law enforcers know that they cannot randomly kill during drug busts without reason since they know that they could be held accountable later on.
In the US, an American lawmaker introduced a bill to halt US aid to Philippine security forces over alleged human rights violations during the Duterte administration.
Pennsylvania 7th District Rep. Susan Wild announced that she will reintroduce the Philippine Human Rights Act (PHRA), which she said is a response to the rampant human rights violations under President Duterte's rule.
“What this bill says is very simple: US taxpayers’ funds should not be used to supply weapons to a regime that violently targets its political opponents, including US citizens like Brandon Lee, a human rights activist, who was shot by state security forces in 2019 and remains paralyzed from the chest down today. As a result of that attack, Brandon deserves to know that his government stands with him not with his attackers,” Wild said.
Also on Tuesday, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said the dismissal of one in three drug cases against Senator Leila de Lima should be further reason to respect the judicial system in the country.
“It is actually proof conclusive that the Philippine justice system works if slowly at least exceeding fine. I knew it all along,” Locsin posted on his Twitter.
The country’s diplomat said the United Nations will be informed of De Lima’s acquittal.
“Will send this to the UN as further reason to respect our justice system before opening the mouth with ignorant comments,” he said.
De Lima is facing two cases of conspiracy to commit illegal drug trading before Branch 205 of the Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court. The senator has filed a demurrer to evidence in both cases. (See full story online at manilastandard.net)
A demurrer to evidence is in effect a motion to dismiss filed by the accused after the prosecution has finished its presentation of evidence. The demurrer is anchored on the ground that the evidence
presented by the prosecution is insufficient.
The lower court dismissed one case, where her nephew Jose Adrian Draw, was her co-accused; and ruled to keep the other and deny the senator a chance to post bail.
De Lima is facing another drug case before Muntinlupa RTC Branch 256, where she has five other co-accused.
De Lima, one of President Rodrigo Duterte’s fiercest critics, earlier claimed “moral victory” over the dismissal of one of her cases, which she repeatedly branded as “trumped-up.”
Since her detention, some American senators have been calling for her immediate release.
Senators Richard Durbin and Patrick Leahy even introduced an amendment to the 2020 State and Foreign Operations Appropriations Bill that sought to ban US entry to Philippine officials proven to be behind de Lima’s “wrongful imprisonment.”
In December 2020, then-US President Donald Trump signed the 2020 national budget, which included that provision.