US senator Bernie Sanders is ‘grandstanding’ by denouncing the alleged human rights abuses made by the Philippine government despite not knowing the details, Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Martin Andanar said.
In a Tweet linking a post from the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), Sanders said “repression of trade unionists is a shameful attempt to silence people’s rights and freedoms.”
Andanar, however, said Sanders remark was “abhorrent” since he failed to look at the facts on the ground.
“What we find abhorrent is that Senator Bernie Sanders and the ITUC refuse to closely look at the facts at hand, and instead choose to make blanket statements that the Philippine government supposedly violates human rights,” Andanar said in a statement.
“Senator Sanders is grandstanding on an issue he obviously does not know the details of, not to mention meddling in our national affairs, which he has no business over,” he added.
The PCOO chief justified anew the joint operations conducted by police and military personnel in offices of activist groups who were suspected to be militants in Bacolod City and Metro Manila last October 31.
Andanar emphasized that the raids were “peaceful and precise that no individuals were hurt” and that “authorities did not act rashly in any way and actually gathered actionable intel before conducting the raids in the offices of the organizations.”
He said Sanders’ claim that there is government abuse is “false” because civilians who were captured were also immediately released days after the operations.
“Stringent measures were undertaken during operations as they are a matter of serious national security. These are steps we have to take in order to erode any probabilities of communist armed conflicts and in the long run attain peace and prosperity among Filipinos,” Andanar said.
Andanar said the conduct of raids is the exact purpose of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), which President Rodrigo Duterte established to curb communist insurgency.
EJKs not state-sponsored
Andanar, meanwhile, said the Philippine government has no policy on state-sponsored killings and that suspected drug abusers who resist arrest and resort to violence lead to unfortunate deaths on both sides.
“There are instances where evidence shows that vigilantes and rival drug cartels were behind the killings,” Andanar said.
The PCOO chief also dispelled anew reports being floated by human rights organizations that there have been 27,000 deaths linked to the drug war compared to the government figure of 5,000 deaths.
“It has already been studied that the 27,000 figure involves deaths not related to the drug war. The official figure is around 5,000,” Andanar said.
Despite false narratives spread by those who want to bring the government down, Andanar said that the government respects human rights.
He also urged all observers and critics to check their facts as some may fall victim to the lies peddled by communist terrorists and their humanitarian organizations fronts.
In the ITUC report shared by Sanders titled “Philippines: Government Crackdown Targets Unions”, it claimed that the Duterte administration’s drug war “has been responsible for a reported 27,000 extrajudicial killings since it was launched by President Duterte in 2016.”
It further noted that while the government pledged to investigate the killings of 43 trade unionists in a meeting with the ITUC in August, “no progress has been reported and the government is yet to accept the ILO mission to the country, while the violence against activists continues with impunity.” (PNA)