Ambassador Patricia Ann Paez sharing with the Filipino community her views on the status of human rights and press freedom in the Philippines


Members of the Filipino community during the “pulong bayan” (‘community meeting” at the Philippine Embassy in Warsaw



WARSAW_____Philippine ambassador to Poland Ms. Patricia Ann V. Paez drew attention to the possible exploitation of a purported concern for human rights to de-legitimize a democratically-elected authority, as a pretext to interfere in a sovereign country’s domestic afffairs, and as a form of pressure to prevent it from charting its own path and independently identifying as well as protecting its “core interests.” The ambassador also pointed to the selective and “double-standard” manner by which “gatekeepers” of human rights judge and condemn alleged “violators and non-violators” of human rights.

The envoy expressed these views during the recently-held “pulong-bayan” (“community-meeting”) with members of the Filipino community in Poland at the Philippine Embassy,

Acknowledging that extra-judicial killings perpetrated by unidentified helmeted men “riding in tandem” in a motorcycle happened in the Philippines, she stressed that such tragic incidents had also occurred with alarming frequency during at least past two administrations, that the phrase “ruding in tandem” became of common usage in news reportage, even before the assumption into power of the present Duterte government.

She observed that, yet, it seems that it was only during this term of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte --- who has offended some key international personalities and institutions and who has been steering the country towards an “independent foreign policy”) -- did a Philippine president receive an unrelenting, focussed, and an unprecedented scale of “bashing,” especially from the international media and human rights watchdogs, as well as “threats” of the witholding of foreign assistance. Unfazed President Duterte has rejected offers of financial assistance with “strings attached” or with preconditions that undermine the country’s sovereignty.

Ambassador Paez added that the arrest, without bail, and the prosecution of policemen involved in the killings of Kian de los Santos and Carl Arnaiz attest to the fact that reported extra-judicial killings or EJKs are not state-sanctioned and that President Duterte is just as resolved as anybody in bringing to justice the perpetrators of EJKs.

As human rights watchdogs themselves had noted, the usual modus operandi of EJK perpetrators has been to “rid(e) in tandem (two person in a motorcycle),” either helmeted or masked, and commit their crime while wearing civilian clothes.

However, the ambassador said that, in contrast to this usual modus operandi, teenager Kian de los Santos was gunned down in full view of his neighborhood, by unmasked and easily identifiable policemen, who were even wearing their official uniforms. De los Santos’ cold-blooded murder was also “caught” by CCTV cameras installed by authorities in the neighborhood, played repeatedly in television stations, and uploaded in social media platforms. This tragedy stoked rightful public indignation and angry condemnations against the Duterte administration and which was later reflected in a dip in President Duterte’s public approval rating, according to surveys conducted by a local polling outfits.

Ambassador Paez said that the strongest base of political support of President Duterte are the overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and their families. She further noted that the mother of de los Santos is an OFW and this family even campaigned and voted for President Duterte, as the mother claimed in a media interview.

The ambassador speculated that one possible scenario about the cold-blooded murder of Kian is that it may have been committed by policemen who themselves may have been involved in the illegal drug trade. Their goal:to discredit or weaken the government’s “war ondrugs,” and eventually compel the government to completely stop it. In the near-term, the tactical objective could be to alienate the president from the OFWs, who comprise the president’s strongest base of support and create circumstances that would trigger calls for the president’s ouster from power.

Ambassador Paez recalled one session of the Philippine Senate’s investigation into the government’s “war on drugs” when a wife and a mother of victims of EJKs gave their testimonies before the Senate investigating committee. Upon their admission that the victims were users and peddlers of “shabu” (synthetic drugs), they were asked who supplied the drugs; they answered that the illegal drug suppliers were members of their local police. force.

The ambassador welcomed the ongoing efforts of the government to “purge” the Philippjne National Police (PNP) proven scalawags and rougue policemen, after President Duterte hasd sacked at least six police generals. (END)


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