Palace accuses rights group of using deaths in drug war to pursue "own selfish agenda"
Malacanang accused on Monday the group Rise Up for Life and Rights of using the deaths of those individuals in President Rodrigo Duterte's war on drugs for their "own selfish agenda."
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo made the statement after the Rise Up, a network of Church-based and sectoral organizations, submitted a supplemental communication before the International Criminal Court, urging Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda to start the investigation into Duterte's bloody war on illegal drugs.
"If Rise Up has any basis for its submission then they should have the decency to honor the memory of those who died, and file actual complaints before our courts. Its immediate resort to the ICC, when our courts are able and willing to hear any and all cases in the country, shows that they are using the deaths to pursue its own selfish agenda," he said.
He branded as "cheap political propaganda" the action of Rise Up, noting that the group could not fool the Filipinos who are "intelligent and discerning."
Panelo, also chief presidential legal counsel, said that the petition against Duterte before the ICC is "doomed from the very start."
The group has filed a complaint against Duterte for allegedly committing crimes against humanity due to his war on drugs.
Official data showed that over 6,000 individuals have been killed in the anti-drug operations since July 2016.
"This group of noisy anti-Duterte critics and detractors is known for resorting to political theatrics and gimmickry, which includes exploiting the grief and loss of widows and mothers whose husbands or children had been neutralized by the anti-narcotics campaign, to catch people’s attention with the objective of once again demonizing PRRD and his government," Panelo said.
He added that the latest move of Rise Up aimed to embarrass Duterte as it was filed when the President was in Russia for his official visit.
"This action is foul, to say the least as this runs contrary to our standard norm and behavior to be united for our leader every time the Chief Executive is in a foreign country building up the image of the country in the international stage," he said.
"The motive of the communication is suspect. The detractors' trumped-up figures have no factual basis and they know that the same allegations will not hold up in court. They are trying to blemish the legitimate operations of our law enforcement personnel, who were only forced to protect themselves in the performance of their duty to serve and protect the people, before an international tribunal which does not have jurisdiction over our country and its leaders," the spokesman added.
The Philippines had withdrawn its signature from the Rome Statute creating the ICC. But before its withdrawal, the petition against Duterte had been filed. Celerina Monte/DMS