Palace hits US-based NGO for calling Philippines a "war zone in disguise"
Malacanang slammed on Friday a US-based non-government organization that labeled the Philippines as "a war zone in disguise," calling it ignorant and biased.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo issued the statement in reaction to Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED) 2018 The Year in Review.
In the report published on January 11, it said that the "Philippines is a war zone in disguise."
"More civilians were killed in the Philippines in 2018 than in Iraq, Somalia, or the Democratic Republic of Congo --highlighting the lethality of President Rodrigo Duerte's 'War on Drugs'-cum-state terror campaign," ACLED said.
Throughout the year, it said the Philippines saw similar levels of civilian fatalities stemming from direct civilian targeting Afghanistan.
The report noted that the Philippines had the fourth highest number of civilian targeting events in 2018, recording 933. Surpassing the Philippines were Syria (3,979), India (1,135), and Yemen (1,378).
Panelo hit ACRED for not presenting any proof that it conducted factual investigation in the country as it merely relied on "allegations made by groups that are hopeless and blindly critical of the Duterte administration."
He named some of the groups, such as the Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, as well as some media outfits like Rappler, Philippine Daily Inquirer, New York Times and Reuters.
"In fact, an earlier ACLED report, 'Duterte’s War: Drug-Related Violence', plays heavily on the allegations of these groups," he said.
Panelo, also chief presidential legal counsel, branded as "pure hogwash" ACLED report describing the Philippine war on drugs as a state terror campaign targeting innocent civilians as a government policy and placing the country in its list of the most dangerous places for civilians last year.
"The report stating that there is an alleged prevalence of state repression tagging the Philippines as a country where civilians are most at risk in 2018 is an infinitely fallacious finding," he said.
He reiterated that the killings related to illegal drugs were not state-sponsored.
"The anti-illegal drug campaign is governed by strict police protocols that subject the police officers to accountability given the President’s zero tolerance for errant law enforcers. Make no mistake about it, the Philippines is a dangerous country to drug manufacturers, dealers, addicts, criminals, terrorists, scoundrels, corrupt and abusive persons in authority," he said.
The official also reaffirmed that impunity has no place under the Duterte government as shown by the conviction of Caloocan City cops involved in the killing of minor Kian delos Santos.
He also claimed that the Philippine press remains one of the freest in the world.
"Political and media detractors continue to hound the President with their reckless and baseless accusations as well as intrigues; yet they are not hailed to court," he said.
In the case of Rappler, a social media outfit, he said that the case filed against it and its officers was not related to the content of its reports but rather on its having evaded tax payment, "a serious criminal offense in the Philippines."
This is also the case of opposition Senator Leila de Lima who is facing criminal charges.
"Yet her allies depict her a prisoner of conscience. She remains incarcerated because the evidence in the drug-related charges filed against her is strong as determined by the court trying her hence she is unqualified for bail," he said.
He also cited the surveys showing the Filipinos' continued trust in the President. Celerina Monte/DMS