PHILIPPINE Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Martin Andanar has rejected the findings of international watchdog Investigate PH on the country’s human rights situation, calling them “malicious.”
“We strongly disagree with the malicious report by Investigate PH on the human rights situation, and the policies and programs of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte and his administration,” he said Wednesday, March 17.
In a 198-page report submitted to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) on Tuesday, March 16, Investigate PH found that there is a “deepening human rights crisis in the Philippines.”
“With the drug war, the creation of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), the July 2020 passage of the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA), and the Philippine government’s militarized response to COVID-19, the perpetration of human rights violations by state forces has become more institutionalized, orchestrated, and entrenched,” said the initial report.
It also pointed out that remedies for many cases of human rights violations in the country are “insufficient and illusory,” identifying 10 indicators for the failure such as obstruction of state authorities on investigations and investigations of violations not being impartial.
However, Andanar debunked the allegations, pointing out that “the country has functioning accountability mechanisms and rule of law and its authorities are competent to address allegations of impunity within national administrative and legal institutions and processes.”
According to him, the report must be rejected.
“Investigate PH does not represent any credible global or regional institution, and its claims of any authority or credibility to report on the Philippines must be rejected,” said Andanar.
He also accused the international watchdog of having a “self-serving political agenda.”
“It is a group of parties that is weaponizing human rights against the Philippines, driven by a self-serving political agenda,” said Andanar.
“We call on the public to guard against giving credence to a ‘report’ by a group whose character and agenda is dubious,” he added.
In response, Investigate PH said Andanar should address its findings instead of attacking its credibility.
“The malice seems to be all with Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar when his recent tweets perhaps deliberately denigrated the commissioners of #InvestigatePH as having no credibility,” Investigate PH said in a statement on Thursday, March 18.
It added, “We urge Mr. Adanar to read the Initial Report and engage with the corroborated facts assembled there. The only weapons we found in our investigation were those of the police and the army shooting at unarmed civilians.”