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Linking rights groups with drug lords is risky 'fake news'

27 March 2018

LOCAL and worldwide human rights groups on Tuesday called out the Philippines government for "sinister" claims they are being used by drug lords to fight the Duterte administration.

Duterte, who says he must be tough to protect the people from the scourge of drugs, has criticized rights groups saying they were "trivializing" his campaign and unjustly blaming the authorities for bloodshed.

Duterte "has even stated that he would step down from the presidency earlier should the Philippines shift to a federal system of government as early as 2020", Harry Roque said in a statement.

"We are still validating reports that drug syndicates might be using human right groups to discredit the efforts of the government", he said. He did not offer any evidence to support the suggestion that rights groups were being used by drug lords.

"In case Harry Roque and Alan Cayetano haven't noticed, Duterte did that all by himself, in a path of tyrannical megalomania and unparalleled self-destruction", Karapatan added.

Police say they have killed almost 4,200 drug suspects who were violently resisting arrest since the launch of the crackdown 20 months ago, which Duterte has vowed to pursue until he steps down in June 2022.

"Continuing the peace talks would benefit the Filipino people most of whom are poor peasants and workers as the agreements on agrarian reform, national industrialization may address the issues and concerns and help provide relief for their continued hardships", the resolution read.

"Are they trying to have death squads target human rights activists?"

The group also accused the government of "cooking up a scenario" that could justify the killing of activists in the same manner as suspected drug takers.

"These allegations are more than just gratuitous slurs aimed at undermining the integrity of already beleaguered Philippine human rights activists pushing back against the Duterte government's systematic attack on rule of law and its instigation and incitement of possible crimes against humanity", Deputy Director for Asia, Phelim Kine, said in a statement. Adams asked in a statement. "They should withdraw their comments immediately".

Panelo said Duterte felt the ICC had become "a tool of oppression, a tool of harassment".