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Lorenzana tells Human Rights Watch: Stop your hypocrisy

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Saturday hit back at Human Rights Watch for its statement that President Rodrigo Duterte is only encouraging war crimes with the "bounty for lumads" for every communist rebel they kill.

In a statement, the Defense chief said that HRW has “always been unreasonably critical of and biased against the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) and PNP (Philippine National Police).”

“It stays silent even when the NPA (New People’s Army) goes on a killing rampage while quick to accuse Philippine law enforcement agencies of trumped-up or unconfirmed violations,” Lorenzana said.

Also, Lorenzana said that the HRW has remained silent when Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founder Jose Maria Sison ordered the CPP-NPA to kill one soldier per region every day.

“When the NPA beheaded a former comrade of theirs who had just returned to the fold of the law, the HRW was silent.” 

“Why did the HRW not say anything when the NPA killed a father and his son—Lumad leaders who attended a Lumad Summit with the President? Where was the HRW when the NPA was burning left and right the equipment of public companies for not acceding to their extortion demands? It is obvious that the HRW is acting as the spokesperson of the CPP-NPA,” Lorenzana added.

The Defense chief also maintained that neutralizing rebels and terrorists is a “legitimate law enforcement function,” stressing that the government is “not precluded from offering rewards under Philippine laws.”

He added that the country’s defenders are “under strict orders to adhere to the principles of human rights and international humanitarian law when they operate in the field.”

“They know only too well that anyone of them who is found guilty of abuse will be sanctioned accordingly,” he added.

The HRW, meanwhile, has been strongly urged to “stop its hypocrisy” as it was after Sison’s statement saying that NPA could kill one soldier in 17 regions a day when President Rodrigo Duterte offered a bounty of P20,000 for every NPA member killed, which was later on increased to P25,000.

“In the interest of neutrality, objectivity, and the truth, we strongly urge the HRW to stop its hypocrisy and, instead, do the right thing by acknowledging and investigating these glaring atrocities being committed by the NPA including the murder of innocent civilians, who resist their aggressive exploitation, and the deceptive recruitment of our indigenous population.” 

“The government will do everything in its power to protect our communities and uphold the rule of law,” Lorenzana said. —Marlly Rome Bondoc/LBG, GMA News