The Philippine National Police (PNP) on Friday, March 2 said it would not issue documents on the government’s anti-illegal drugs campaign to international bodies.
According to PNP spokesperson Chief Supt. John Bulalacao, who also serves as the head of PNP Public Information Office, requests for such documents should be referred “to the higher authorities.”
“Ang PNP, bilang isang ahensya ng Executive department, ay nago-obserba ng protocol sa pag-release ng impormasyon na involve ang national security (The PNP as an agency of the Executive department observes a protocol in releasing infomation involving national security),” Bulalacao explained.
He added, “All information that may be requested by international bodies shall pass through proper channel. Therefore, this matter should be referred to the higher authorities.”
Bulalacao made the remark a day after President Rodrigo Duterte initiated to ignore human rights investigations.
In a speech on Thursday, March 1, Duterte advised the military and police not to respond to any inquiries by human rights experts or United Nations (UN) rapporteurs.
The president also reiterated his promised protection to soldiers and policemen if they faced legal problems while performing their duties.
“I will back you up. And when a human rights [official] or any rapporteur comes, this is my order to you: Do not answer. Do not bother,” Duterte told the country’s security forces.
He added, “Why would we be answering? Bakit, sino sila (Why, who are they)? And who are you to interfere in the way I would run my country?”
Earlier this week, Icelandic Foreign Affairs Minister Gudlaugur Thór Thórdarson urged the Philippine government to allow UN Special Rapporteur Agnes Callamard to investigate the allegations of human rights violations associated with Duterte’s drug war “without preconditions or limitations.”
The International Criminal Court (ICC) is also starting its preliminary examination into Duterte’s drug war to determine if there is basis to conduct a formal investigation against the president.
However, Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said that the Philippines won’t accept Callamard or any other official who has “already prejudged” the Duterte administration.
Malacañang also claimed that the ICC has no authority yet to compel the Philippine government to provide documents on its campaign against illegal drugs.
During the same speech, Duterte tagged democracy as among the factors that increase the challenge of prosecution.
He admitted that leading a democratic government is no easy task, especially when countering threats posed by unscrupulous individuals who take advantage of Constitutional rights.
“This is democracy and that is the reason we are pretty hard up. It is not easy to run a government that is democratic because of the so many rights of the citizens,” the president said in his speech at the opening ceremony of the National SWAT Challenge in Davao City.
He continued: “Police power, power of eminent domain, and taxation — those are the fundamentals. Those are the core power of the government. But there is a firewall also and that is the Bill of Rights — due process, right to be heard, lawyer during an investigation, and all of these things. And that is why we can hardly cope up.”
Duterte, who is also a former prosecutor, lamented how often the Bill of Rights are being exploited by terrorists and other criminals.
“And that is the reason why if the terrorists say that they are determined and they would not hesitate to kill, then for the same reason, we will not hesitate and we will not be afraid to kill,” he added.
Last month, a United States intelligence report tagged Duterte as one of the leaders who pose a threat to democracy and human rights. It noted, in particular, the president’s so-called drug war that resulted in the deaths of thousands of suspected personalities.
Refuting the U.S. report, Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo said Duterte is not a threat to democracy, but rather “a threat to criminal elements, drug lords, corrupt government officials and to all those who are bent on destroying the democratically instituted government.”