Karapatan echoes Robredo’s question: What is this government hiding?

"There was never any sincere attempt on the part of the Duterte government to address the root causes of the drug menace to begin with.

"There was never any sincere attempt on the part of the Duterte government to address the root causes of the drug menace to begin with. As the seeming trap to humiliate Vice President Leni Robredo blew up catastrophically in the faces of Duterte and his cohorts, they are now desperately trying to backpedal. They not only deprived Robredo of vital information and opportunity to perform her mandate, but now they are twisting her removal from the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Ilegal Drugs by blaming her! What a circus! It is also notable that all this is happening with the SEA games fiasco at the backdrop, so this may all be another diversionary tactic to veer the conversation away from the corruption and gross incompetence very much floating on the surface," said Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay. 

The rights group assailed the government’s insincerity in addressing the worsening drug menace in the country after President Rodrigo Duterte sacked Vice President Leni Robredo from her post as the co-chairperson of the  Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs.

The group also echoed Robredo’s question on the real motive behind her removal: "When Robredo started talking about accountability, there was visible panic among Duterte’s chuwariwaps. Panelo, Go, and Cayetano, among others, were immediately dispatched to bully and undermine her even before she accepts the position. Now that she is making strides and would possibly have access to information that can implicate the Duterte government, she was cut off. So what is this government hiding from the public? This further fuels the suspicion that something anomalous is going on, and that uniformed criminals are being coddled in line with the drug war," Palabay added. 

Contrary to Malacañang’s pronouncement that Robredo only used the post for “grandstanding,” Karapatan said that the Vice President’s efforts are undeniable in her 18-day stint as drug czar: “For more than two weeks, we’ve seen her potential to reform a policy that has claimed thousands of lives of Filipinos.”

"Robredo was given the position in the ICAD after she criticized the drug war for its failure and brutality. After she leaves the committee, the sham drug war remains a brutal failure and now, is further proven as a well-kept secret that if unlocked, could expose the criminal ties between the masterminds and the on-ground murderers. They will not fire Robredo, unless they are hiding things from the public. It can be well-remembered that the decision of the President came after she requested for pertinent documents,” she said.

“He willingly uses his macho fascism to fire a woman who challenges and peruses the rampant human rights violations in his failed anti-illegal drugs campaign which has brought about thousands of deaths in poverty-stricken communities. Duterte is trying to use Robredo as a cover-up, further malign her, and blame her for Duterte’s failures. While she is being used as a scapegoat, we urge Robredo to fight back,” added Palabay.

Following the end of Robredo’s ICAD stint, Karapatan said that efforts for justice and accountability are ongoing: "We voice out our support for Robredo to reveal the things she discovered, especially if it adds to the evidence that the killings were State-perpetrated. However, we reiterate that firing Robredo would not save Duterte and his cohorts from investigation; it will not save them from their accountability in the numerous irregularities and abuses in this regime’s sham drug war.”

“As the International Human Rights Day nears on December 10, we  invite the Vice President to join us in commemorating this event and to stand as one in the defense of human rights. There are still a multitude of platforms to seek accountability, and so we urge her to tread onwards,” she ended.