News Release

Statement of Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar on the Human Rights Watch article entitled “Killings in Philippines Up 50 percent during Pandemic”

We denounce the attempt of the Human Rights Watch (HRW), through its writer Carlos Conde, to present anew gross distortions of the situation in the Philippines with the article “Killings in Philippines Up 50 Percent during Pandemic.”

The article has weak methodological anchor, and severely falsifies realities in the country.

The Duterte administration has prioritized the human rights and dignity of all Filipinos during the pandemic, rolling out socio-economic interventions that have stretched the resources and capacities of the government. The Philippines’ national response to the pandemic strongly enjoys the confidence and support of the Filipino people, as attested by the Gallup global survey, where the Philippines has ranked among governments that received the highest confidence ratings from their citizens, even higher than many Western countries.

The government has maintained its commitment to pursue the anti-illegal drug campaign with its comprehensive community-based approaches and lawful enforcement operations throughout the pandemic.

We pay tribute to the men and women of the police force and community officials who have served the Filipino public with valor and dedication during these challenging times.

We reject sweeping allegations of state-sanctioned extra judicial killings that have resurfaced with unfounded allegations, and reiterate the firm intention to investigate allegations, if substantiated, and prosecute cases within the country’s well-established accountability mechanisms. Internal accountability mechanisms within our law enforcement agencies, such as the Philippine National Police, are in place to ensure that wrongful actions by law enforcers are addressed.

We believe in the role of an empowered civil society in nation-building and transforming communities for the better. Therefore, we encourage the HRW and other global human rights watchdogs to uphold the highest level of integrity and credibility to maintain their relevance and positive force.

We ask the HRW to avoid the use of unqualified and unverified data and conclusions derived from flawed methodologies and drawn with ideological blinders.

Contrary to Mr. Conde’s claim, the Duterte Administration remains and continues to be receptive and willing to engage with individuals, groups, and organizations to constructively act on relevant matters and issues, especially on human rights.

We remain in cognizance of our international and humanitarian obligations as we continue to promote all Filipinos’ inherent freedoms and human rights throughout our administration.