Roque calls “propaganda” Karapatan’s filing of EJK cases before UN
The filing of cases by human rights group Karapatan before the United Nations over the alleged extra-judicial killings in the country involving left-leaning individuals was only for "propaganda," Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said on Sunday.
Roque said it is useless to go to the UN without filing complaints before the prosecutor's office.
"Filing directly with the UN is only for propaganda purposes because there are institutions in the Philippines that could address it," he said.
In a statement, Roque reminded the left-leaning group that there is an inter-agency, known as Administrative Order 35 Committee, headed by the Department of Justice for such purpose.
AO 35 issued by former President Benigno Aquino III provides for the creation of the inter-agency committee on extra-legal killings, enforced disappearance, torture and other grave violations of the right to life, liberty and security of persons.
Roque said it was "unfortunate" that the group wrote two separate letters to UN, one for UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Killings Agnes Callamard and the other for Human Rights Defenders Michel Forst.
"Certainly, Karapatan knows the cases will not prosper there in the UN. It is the political mileage they are after in pursuit of their continued intent to malign this administration, through the special rapporteurs who only seem too willing to act based on fake political information," he said.
Meanwhile, Karapatan said all the complaints they have submitted to UN have been filed before the Commission on Human Rights, local courts, Department of Justice, the Ombudsman, and the Government of the Philippines section in Joint Monitoring Committee with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines on the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law.
The group reminded Roque that "exhaustion of domestic remedies is not a prerequisite in submitting letters of allegations or reports to UN Special Procedures."
"Clearly, Atty. Roque is just using several excuses to cover-up the existence of extrajudicial killings and HR violations under Duterte and to impede the victims’ process of seeking justice and accountability," Karapatan added.
Last Saturday, the human rights group submitted the letters to the UN special rapporteurs concerning 25 cases of extrajudicial killings allegedly perpetrated by the government security forces in line with President Rodrigo Duterte’s counter-insurgency program.
Duterte has terminated the formal peace talks with the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army-National Democratic Front for the rebels' continued attacks against government forces and extortion activities. Ella Dionisio/DMS