The President is hiding | Inquirer Opinion
Kris-Crossing Mindanao

The President is hiding

Malacañang’s official transcript of President Duterte’s first response to the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) resolution unapologetically goes this way:

“Hindi maintindihan nitong mga p***** i** ’to na may problema tayo. Iceland? Ano ang problema ng Iceland? Ice lang. That’s your problem. You have too much ice and there is no clear day or night there. Parang alas kwatro ng hapon ang araw pati gabi. So you can understand why there is no crime, there is no policemen either and they can just go about eating ice (laughter).”


Picked up by media and the international community, the President chose to reply rather with buffoonery and fake news. In fact, Iceland’s problem was a high teen incidence of drugs. With a combination of a comprehensive community commitment and parental involvement, Iceland reduced the problem to 5 percent of teens in 2016 from a high prevalence of 42 percent in 1998. The President just made himself the king of fake news.

The greatest paradox in this UNHRC issue is the face-to-face comparison of facts and fiction. They are so diametrically contrasting that one wonders if the truth is hitting the President’s gut, with the Palace’s responses and those of its minions so devoid of truth-telling and fact-checking despite billions in “intelligence” funds.


In contrast, the UNHRC resolution was boosted by a wealthy data of first-person testimonies of years of arduous research and documentation. Two nongovernment organizations (NGO) were principally behind the research, Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Amnesty International (AI). A word about HRW: its country researcher for the Asia division is the articulate and intrepid Carlos Conde from Mindanao who once lived through the days of the Davao Death Squad in Duterte city—Davao. Behind AI is another Mindanawon, Butch Olano, with years of professional experience in NGO work. None are connected with the CPP-NPA-NDF as Police Gen. Oscar Albayalde, the Philippine National Police chief, had said the UNHRC resolution was supported by. That was another dirt-cheap fake news and desperate Red-tagging.

Not only is truth not on the side of the government, it has used its powers to obstruct justice in a brazen display of throwing accountability out the window, for instance, the inconsistency on the death toll. The PNP’s 6,600 drug war deaths do not even coincide with the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency’s 5,500. “They began deflating the numbers when it became a public relations (PR) problem,” said Malou Mangahas, executive director of the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism. The PR fiasco began with the murder of a South Korean businessman kidnapped in October 2016 and later found to have been killed by police in their own headquarters.

The PNP accomplishment report itself had actually said there were 20,000 deaths from July 2016 to November 2017. Deflating the numbers began after that when the PNP arbitrarily assigned a classification, deaths under investigation, numbering to more than 20,000, relates the German international broadcaster Deutsche Welle.

The Supreme Court had questioned the death toll in April 2018. “This is a total of 20,322 deaths during the Duterte administration’s antidrug war from July 1, 2016, to Nov. 27, 2017, or an average of 39.46 deaths every day. This court wants to know why so many deaths happened?” And how did the government respond? Solicitor General Jose Calida, not shy to strut his feathers as a Duterte ally and Marcos dictatorship fan, replied: the documents “contain sensitive information that have national security implications.” As of this writing, his data remains hidden.

Last week, the PNP said 7,867 police officers have been sanctioned for drug war offenses. Carlos Conde elucidates however: only one case has resulted in conviction; the rest are mere administrative cases, meaning only the PNP has investigated. No cases have been elevated to the government’s prosecution arms such as the Ombudsman or the Commission on Human Rights.

The fundamental question now is: if Mr. Duterte has nothing to hide, why is he afraid of the UNHRC resolution, only calling for a modest monitoring report? What is he hiding? Where is the truth hidden?

On Twitter: @AntonioJMontal2
Email: [email protected]

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TAGS: Antonio J. Montalvan, drug war killings, Iceland resolution, Kriss-Crossing Mindanao, Rodrigo Duterte, UN Human Rights Council
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