Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon Lopez on Tuesday hit The New York Times (NYT) for urging the international community, in an editorial, to impose trade sanctions against the Philippines for extrajudicial killings under the Duterte administration's campaign on illegal drugs.
"The editorial by The New York Times last March 24, calling for trade sanctions against the Philippines, is baseless and unfair," Lopez said in a statement.
"Any form of trade sanction against the Philippines is uncalled for, unfounded and undeserved," the Trade chief emphasized.
In an editorial, titled "Accountability for Duterte," the American daily urged foreign governments to "hit" President Rodrigo Duterte "where it may hurt the most" – trade – in a bid to hold the Philippine leader accountable over the alleged killings in his "deadly" war on illegal drugs.
The newspaper cited the recent threat by the European Union to impose tariffs on Philippine exports to member-countries.
"Outraged by Mr. Duterte’s behavior, as well as his government’s possible reinstatement of the death penalty and lowering the age for criminal prosecution to 9, the EU has proposed hitting his government where it may hurt the most – by imposing tariffs on Philippine goods. Other democratic trading partners should do the same," the editorial read.
Lopez asserted that EJKs do not exist in the country.
Deaths under investigation
"We believe there are no extra judicial killings, and human rights are not being violated in the government’s campaign to cleanse the country of drug elements," he said.
"The government does not sanction the killings that are occurring, mainly due to actions by criminals and drug syndicates to purge their ranks. While some drug elements have been killed during police operations, this is a result of the criminals fighting back with force and leaving our police force with no recourse but to protect themselves," he added.
The Cabinet official noted that a number of reported deaths are categorized by the Philippine National Police (PNP) as Deaths under Investigation (DUI) or deaths that have happened beyond police operations.
"The government does not condone these," Lopez said.
"We also want to point out the successes of the anti-drug campaign, like the more than a million who have surrendered peacefully to police operations. The campaign has also resulted in an overall lower crime rate, which is noticed by citizens," Lopez noted, citing a Pulse Asia survey in December 2016 which showed 82 percent of Filipinos feel much safer now.
"That’s why we believe the accusations made by the US broadsheet is based on unverified media reports, and is creating a general perception that there are extra judicial killings taking place in the country. There is no such thing in the country," he stressed.
"While we would advise the public and the international community not to jump to hasty conclusions, we consider these accusations unjust for the Philippines. Our country is verging on an economic breakout, more so as we institute discipline and restore peace and order," he added.
Business confidence in our country is high, with investor confidence at more than 34 percent, Lopez cited.
"The confidence is there, as evidenced by the record high foreign direct investments at $7.9 billion in 2016 or 44 percent higher than previous year," he said.
"The Board of Investments also reported a 21 percent hike in registered investments, and the foreign investments part of it during the second half of 2016 (under Duterte administration) posted much higher growth rate versus previous semester and versus the same period in 2015, indicative of the foreign investors’ confidence in the Philippines and how conducive the business environment is in the country," Lopez added. — VDS, GMA News