CHR defends Digong from ‘serial killer president’ tag

By Victor Anthony V. Silva and Ador Vincent S. Mayol |October 10,2016 - 10:41 PM

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While some sectors may view as “unfair” the tagging of President Rodrigo Duterte as a “serial killer president” by French newspaper The Liberation, a Cebuano business leader said it will only get worse for the chief executive if he doesn’t get his act together.

Gordon Alan “Dondi” Joseph, president of the Cebu Business Club (CBC), said this kind of labeling by foreign press was inevitable and will not stop.

“The President needs to start being more presidential and become a world leader and an example to all Filipinos,” he told Cebu Daily News.

Joseph added that without a doubt, this perception will affect foreign investments.

Unfair

While they condemned cases of alleged extrajudicial killings, Leo Villarino, chief investigator of the Commission on Human Rights in the region (CHR-7), said there is no concrete evidence to prove that Mr. Duterte authored the spate of killings.

“CHR is investigating versions and incidents of alleged extrajudicial killings. But the commission has not reached the point of saying that the President is behind the killings. No conclusions have been made yet. It’s unfair and premature to say that he (Mr. Duterte) is a serial killer,” Villarino told CDN.

Chief Supt. Noli Taliño, director of the Police Regional Office in Central Visayas (PRO-7), also considered unfair the tagging of Duterte a “serial killer president.”“I don’t believe that. That’s unfair, very unfair,” he told reporters yesterday.

Taliño said there were at least three cases wherein the police proved that drug suspects killed each other, thinking that the other person informed authorities about their illegal operations.

“Drug syndicates are also conducting an internal cleansing. They are now killing each other. So why blame the President for all the killings?” he said.

Business climate

Foreign investors have reportedly pulled money out of the Philippines amid Duterte’s bloody crackdown on illegal drugs and his foul-mouthed responses to critics in defense of his campaign.

Various groups and even Philippine lawmakers have pinned the blame on Duterte for recent stock market losses and the plunge of the peso against the US dollar.

“He is on the world stage now and everything he says will impact the Philippines and his goal to uplift the Filipino people,” said Joseph.

Mandaue Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI) president Glenn Soco said the label was “too much, foul, uncalled for, and without basis.”

“It’s not only demeaning to our country having our President as such, but it is also an attack against him as a person,” he said.

Soco added that the country’s economic fundamentals will remain strong and that the Philippines will still be an emerging market globally, making it attractive to the international business community despite the controversies Duterte is embroiled in.

“We recommend for the President to ignore and not to dignify these statements. We want him to focus on his agenda for the country,” said Soco.
Business leaders in Cebu earlier lauded Duterte for his 10-point socio-economic agenda which include the continuation of current macroeconomic policies, tax reforms, and increase in ease of doing business, among others.

For Melanie Ng, Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI) president, Duterte is doing everything he can “under the rule of law to address the drug menace.”
The business sector, she said, would just have to continue their economic development efforts to market the country as an attractive destination.

She added that the business sector can capitalize on the fact that the government is “doing its best to make sure the country will be relieved of the intense drug problem and contribute to better peace and order.”

Statistics

Based on the records of PRO-7, at least 116 drug suspects were killed in legitimate police operations, while 138 were gunned down by still unknown assailants from July 1 to October 10.

Taliño said Filipinos can best say whether or not President Duterte is performing well as the country’s top executive.

A recent Social Weather Stations survey says three-fourths (76 percent) of voting-age Filipinos were satisfied with President Duterte’s performance.

Villarino said CHR-7 is investigating about 40 cases of alleged extrajudicial killings in the region and continues to monitor drug-related deaths reported in newspapers every day.

“CHR is conducting an investigation to find out whether or not the state should be held responsible for the alleged extrajudicial killings, or if it involved police officers, to determine whether they observe the operations manual,” Villarino said.

In incidents involving unknown assailants, he admitted CHR-7 investigators have a hard time producing a strong case.

“We continue to look for witnesses. It’s hard to base our findings on news reports. Proving cases of alleged extrajudicial killings is not that easy especially if we don’t have sufficient evidence to prove it,” Villarino said.

Anti-drug drive

Taliño, on the other hand, said there will be no let up in their campaign against illegal drugs and other crimes.

“The rule of law shall be upheld at all times. People should know that policemen, not drug lords, are on top of implementing the law,” the PRO-7 chief said.

Taliño advised policemen to be careful at all times since drug personalities may target them.

“Do not be afraid or I will reassign you to another place. Cowards have no place in our campaign against illegal drugs,” he said.

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