The United States government has found reports on human rights abuses allegedly committed by Philippine security forces, including extrajudicial killings and torture, "credible."
“There were credible reports that members of the security forces committed numerous abuses,” the US State Department said in its 2021 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices released Tuesday.
Among the "significant" human rights issues in the Philippines mentioned in the report were:
- unlawful or arbitrary killings, including extrajudicial killings, by and on behalf of the government and nonstate actors;
- reports of forced disappearance by and on behalf of the government and nonstate actors;
- torture by and on behalf of the government and nonstate actors; harsh and life-threatening prison conditions;
- arbitrary detention by and on behalf of the government and nonstate actors;
- serious problems with the independence of the judiciary;
- high-level and widespread government corruption;
- serious government restrictions on or harassment of domestic human rights organizations
According to the US State Department, some charges in connection with these abuses were often “leveled for political reasons.”
“These actions were at times investigated and prosecuted, although there were credible allegations that charges were often leveled for political reasons,” it said.
For the US agency, the Philippine National Police (PNP) has institutional deficiencies and its Internal Affairs Service (IAS), which investigates cases involving erring policemen, is not effective.
“The national police’s institutional deficiencies and the public perception that corruption in the police was endemic continued. The PNP’s Internal Affairs Service remained largely ineffective,” it said.
PNP defends IAS
In a statement on Thursday, the PNP — accused by human rights defenders of committing abuses in connection with the Duterte's administration's war on drugs — defended its organization and pointed out its efforts against corruption within its system.
“The PNP wishes to oppose the statement from recent report of the United States Department of State’s latest annual country reports on human rights stating that IAS remained largely ineffective,” the PNP said.
The PNP, however, added that it is not disregarding the report.
Citing the IAS' accomplishments, the PNP said 5,599 cops were dismissed from the service from July 2016 until March 30, 2022 after facing administrative charges due to grave offenses.
The PNP also said that from July 2016 to March 2022, 1,129 policemen were demoted, 10,490 were suspended, 848 faced forfeiture of salary, 2,475 were reprimanded, 208 were restricted, and privileges were withheld for 286 personnel.
“It will be unfair for the PNP to be regarded as an organization that tolerates impunity and human rights abuses,” the PNP said.
Innuendo, witch hunt
For his part, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana questioned the report and challenged the US State Department to "provide us with details so our [Commission on Human Rights], a constitutional and independent body, can verify them."
"Absent these data the accusations are nothing but innuendos and witch hunt," Lorenzana said in a statement.
"At worst, the state has become a gullible victim of black propaganda." —KBK, GMA News