MANILA—Malacañang on Thursday disputed a report of independent watchdog organization Freedom House which said that freedom in the Philippines is on a “downward trend” due to alleged extrajudicial killings (EJKs) during the government’s campaign against drugs.
“Freedom House has partially attributed the ranking to the President’s policy of alleged extrajudicial killings of suspected drug dealers and addicts and such conclusion is really far from the truth,” Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said in a Palace briefing.
“Apparently it does not include, in its equation, the widespread satisfaction that common people experienced in the new found peace and security that they find in the neighborhoods,” Abella said as he hinted that Freedom House’s rating of the Philippines may not be an independent finding after all.
“Now, again, let me just state, the Freedom House, which provides the ranking is also partially funded by the US State Department, which has… become the subject of the President’s criticisms, okay,” the Presidential Spokesman said.
“So, basically, what we are saying is that we understand where they are coming from. They also apparently have their own point of view. But, again, there seems to be a misperception of what the President’s actual operations (are),” he said.
In its Freedom in the World 2017 report, Freedom House said the Philippines received a downward trend arrow “due to the thousands of extrajudicial killings carried out as part of Duterte’s war on drugs, as well as assassinations and threats against civil society activists.”
The group rated the Philippines as “partly free,” the same rating the country got last year.
The Philippines received an aggregate freedom score of 63, with 0 as least free and 100 as most free.
In both political rights and civil liberties, it retained its freedoms ratings of 3, with 1 being “most free” and 7 “least free.”
The Philippines was also cited in the group’s Countries to Watch which said: “After his extrajudicial war on drugs claimed thousands of lives in 2016, President Rodrigo Duterte may continue his extreme policies with strong parliamentary backing.”
To this, Abella stressed that “the President’s anti-drug war does not condone extrajudicial killings and the President is clear that he is after criminals.”
He likewise pointed out that the campaign against illegal drugs has yielded more than a million drug personalities, some of whom have already surrendered while some submitted themselves to the rehabs programs.
The Palace official also distanced the government from the acts of rouge cops.
“Again, let me just say, criminal cops are not government. Their illegal acts do not represent the police institution whose duty is to ensure the protection and security of civilians,” Abella said.
Malacañang likewise branded as “unfounded” Freedom House’s statement that President Duterte won widespread support for his policy of EJK of suspected drug dealers and addicts.
“The President won on an overwhelming mandate of change, okay. So it is for this reason that the Chief Executive continues to enjoy high satisfaction approval and trust ratings from people,” Abella said.
But despite the somewhat differing view painted by Freedom House, he said that the President will continue to work for the good of the nation.
“In the face of all this, the President continues to work towards providing Filipinos a comfortable life in spite of widespread corruption even in government and the perception of other entities with different agenda,” Abella said.