Duterte got it wrong on French law, says embassy
Sorry, monsieur, but you got it all wrong.
The French Embassy in Manila on Wednesday contradicted President Rodrigo Duterte’s claims that laws in France presumed a person guilty until proven innocent.
“We have to point out that, as in the Philippines, the presumption of innocence until proven guilty is at the core of the French judicial system, based on the principles enshrined in the French Declaration of Human and Civic Rights of Aug. 26, 1789,” the embassy said in a statement.
“France strongly believes in the importance of the rule of law, due process and respect for human rights in all countries, including the Philippines,” it added.
Mr. Duterte’s spokesperson, Ernesto Abella, said France and the Philippines shared “the same values of respect for human rights, due process and accords primacy to the presumption of innocence.”
“The President’s statements yesterday express the sentiment that while no judicial or legal system in the world is perfect, countries are continuously working to refine their laws and improve their respective national systems in order to ensure protection of human rights while maintaining peace and order within its territory,” Abella added.
During Monday’s press conference, Mr. Duterte lashed out at the United Nations’ special rapporteur on extrajudicial killings, Agnes Callamard, over her comments on the killing of Kian delos Santos alleged by policemen in an antidrug operation.
On her Twitter account, Callamard condemned the killing as “murder” and called for an investigation, saying the 17-year-old student’s death should be “the last.”
Mr. Duterte, who frequently uses coarse language particularly against critics of his drug war, lashed out at her. “Daughter of a whore, tell her! Don’t she dare scare me, daughter of a whore. She’s an idiot! Where is that crazy person from?”
Upon learning that she was French, he said people in France were presumed guilty unless proven innocent.
“Even in her own place, that happens. She’s an idiot,” he said. “In their place, they can detain a person almost indefinitely under the French law. And the French law says you are guilty and you have to prove your innocence. That’s how it works.”
The embassy stressed that Callamard as special rapporteur “represents the UN, and not the French government.”
On Friday, a murder complaint was filed against the policemen involved in the shooting of Delos Santos in Caloocan City.
The student was one of more than 80 drug and crime suspects killed in purported gun battles with police over three days this month in the bloodiest period of Mr. Duterte’s antidrug campaign.
The killings have sparked alarm and investigations by the Senate and others. Anger and protests have focused on the killing of Delos Santos.
Police said the student was a drug courier who opened fire with a pistol during a raid. His family, however, said he was mercilessly killed by lawmen while pleading for his life and telling them he had an exam in school the next day. —WITH REPORTS FROM LEILA B. SALAVERRIA, AFP AND AP
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