MANILA — Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano on Saturday accused New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) of “intentionally misleading” the international community with its report that the human rights situation in the Philippines is at its worst since the time of former President Ferdinand Marcos.
“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,” said in a statement posted by the DFA-Office of Public Diplomacy.
In its World Report 2018, HRW noted events in 2017 and reiterated its claim that the government’s campaign against illegal drugs resulted in the deaths of more than 12,000 individuals, mostly members of urban poor communities and including children.
Also, it claimed that President Rodrigo Duterte “has plunged the Philippines into its worst human rights crisis” since the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos in the 1970s and 1980s.
Cayetano challenged the group to show proof that the 12,000 killed were all victims of the government’s war against illegal drugs.
“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,” he said.
According to Cayetano, the number of drug personalities killed is 3,968 in 80,683 anti-illegal drugs operations conducted by the government from July 1, 2016 to Dec. 27, 2017.
The said operations, which also led to the arrest of 119,023 drug personalities, even resulted in the deaths of 86 law enforcement officers and the wounding of 226 others, he added.
The secretary stressed that “unlike before when government was perceived to be protecting only the rights of the powerful,” the country under Duterte is doing everything it can to protect the rights of everyone, including those of the criminals.
“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,” Cayetano 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,” he said, adding that “These assertions are unfair to the Philippines and to the Filipino people.”
The secretary also said that under the present administration, “democracy has never been more alive” in the Philippines.
“Our booming economy is a testament to good governance and adherence to law,” he said.
The Secretary said proof of this were the latest Social Weather Stations surveys that showed increase in President Duterte and his administration’s public trust rating for the 4th quarter of 2017.