Cayetano slams claim PH under 'worst human rights crisis' since Marcos

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 20) Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano slammed an international human rights group for saying that the Philippines is in its "worst human rights crisis" since the Marcos dictatorship.

"We will not allow Human Rights Watch to portray an unfair and unjust image of our country nor will we let it question the strength of our democracy," Cayetano said in a Saturday statement.

Human Rights Watch, a nonprofit group that has frequently criticized the Duterte administration, made the comparison in its 2018 report, saying that President Rodrigo Duterte's war on drugs has claimed an estimated 12,000 lives in alleged extrajudicial killings.

"Duterte has plunged the Philippines into its worst human rights crisis since the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos," the group said on Thursday.

Human rights violations marred the regime of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, who was in power from 1965 to 1986.

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The group's investigation found the Philippine National Police and its agents have repeatedly carried out extrajudicial killings of drug suspects, and then falsely claimed self-defense.

"Police have planted guns, spent ammunition and drug packets on victims' to implicate them in drug activities," it reported.

Citing government figures, Cayetano said 3,968 drug personalities were killed in 80,683 anti-illegal drug operations from July 1, 2016 to December 27, 2017.

He added that during the same period, 119,023 drug personalities were arrested, while 86 law enforcement officers were killed.

Cayetano said the Duterte administration is doing everything it can to protect the rights of all Filipinos, including criminals.

"It is because this change is disruptive, those who were previously above the law and those who have political interests to advance have resorted to a massive disinformation campaign," he said.

Cayetano accused Human Rights Watch of intentionally misleading the international community.

"Human Rights Watch is among those that has been deliberately misrepresenting the figures to make it appear that there exists a culture of impunity in the Philippines and that the country's democratic institutions are at risk," he said. "These assertions are unfair to the Philippines and to the Filipino people."