Cayetano: HRW deliberately misrepresenting figures

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) today slammed rights watchdog Human Rights Watch (HRW) after saying “President Rodrigo Duterte has plunged the Philippines into its worst human rights crisis since the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos in the 1970s and 1980s.”

DFA said HRW is intentionally misleading the international community.

“We will not allow Human Rights Watch to portray an unfair and unjust image of our country nor will we let it question the strength of our democracy,” Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter S. Cayetano said.

“Human Rights Watch has politicized the issue for its own gain and has not done any real research, study or investigation on the human rights situation in the Philippines,” Secretary Cayetano said.

He also dared HRW to show proof that the 12,000 it said were killed were all victims of the government’s war against illegal drugs.

Cayetano said that contrary to the claims of Human Rights Watch, the number of drug personalities killed is 3,968 in 80,683 anti-illegal drugs operations which also led to the arrest of 119,023 drug personalities, also resulted in the deaths of 86 law enforcement officers and the wounding of 226 others, from 1 July 2016 to 27 December 2017.

He added that under President Duterte, the Philippines is doing everything it can to protect the rights of everyone, including criminals, unlike before when government was perceived to be protecting only the rights of the powerful.

“It is because this change is disruptive, those who were previously above the law and those who have political interests to advance have resorted to a massive disinformation campaign,” he said.

“Human Rights Watch is among those that has been deliberately misrepresenting the figures to make it appear that there exists a culture of impunity in the Philippines and that the country’s democratic institutions are at risk,” Secretary Cayetano said. “These assertions are unfair to the Philippines and to the Filipino people.”

HRW said in its report that Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) data shows Philippine National Police (PNP) operations resulted in the deaths of 3,906 suspected drug users and dealers from July 1, 2016, to September 26, 2017.

“But unidentified gunmen have killed thousands more, bringing the total death toll to more than 12,000, according to credible media reports,” it added. “A Human Rights Watch investigation found that the Philippine National Police and its agents have repeatedly carried out extrajudicial killings of drug suspects, and then falsely claimed self-defense.”