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Palace: UN report on PH rights defenders ‘based on false info’

By: - Reporter / @DYGalvezINQ
/ 08:56 PM February 19, 2019
Leila de Lima - Maria Lourdes Sereno - Maria Ressa

From left: Sen. Leila de Lima, former Supreme Court Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, and Rappler CEO Maria Ressa (File photo from Philippine Daiily Inquirer)

MANILA, Philippines — The United Nations report on allegedly “targeted” female rights defenders in the Philippines is “highly misplaced” as it “based on false information,” according to Malacañang Palace.

Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo issued the statement on Tuesday in reference to a report by UN Special Rapporteur Michel Forst on Sen. Leila de Lima, former Supreme Court Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno and Rappler chief executive officer Maria Ressa, saying that they “tend to be targeted for their visibility — not only to silence them but also to discourage broader dissent.”

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According to Panelo, the detention of De Lima, the ouster of Sereno, and charges filed against Ressa were the “product of their own doing.”

“Attributing the detention of Senator Leila de Lima, the unseating of Atty. Ma. Lourdes Sereno as Chief Justice and the filing of charges against Ms. Maria Ressa as part of the President’s policies and alleging that their unfortunate situations were designed by the government to silence them and discourage broader dissent are the same false narratives peddled by the usual cynics of the Administration,” Panelo said in a statement.

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READ: UN prober: De Lima, Sereno, Ressa rights defenders under threat

“The events that led to the present circumstances of these personalities are products of their own doing which all took place prior to the assumption of PRRD [President Rodrigo Roa Duterte] to the presidential seat,” he added.

He noted the following points:

De Lima was the secretary of the Department of Justice when the drugs in the New Bilibid Prison proliferated, allegedly with her participation.

Sereno did not provide copies of her Statements of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth (SALN) when she applied as Chief Justice during the administration of President Benigno Aquino III

and Ressa did not pay the correct taxes and published libelous articles against a private citizen before Duterte’s presidency.

Panelo said the Duterte administration should not be blamed for enforcing the law “more rigorously” and if its critics “have issues following the law.”

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“The fact that Senator de Lima, Atty. Sereno and Ms. Ressa are critics of the Administration is of no moment and absolutely unrelated to the criminal charges they are facing,” he said.

According to him, Filipinos are no longer fooled by “political dramas “concocted” by the administration’s critics who then resort to international groups who are “clueless” of the real situation in the country and “gullibly” lend their names to “such unworthy cases.”

Panelo directed a message to Forst, saying: “The UN Special Rapporteur should — and must — consciously, efficiently and thoroughly verify the facts and circumstances surrounding the aforementioned personalities before reports on their situation are published so as not to stain the integrity and credibility of his office.” /atm

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TAGS: Leila de Lima, Maria Lourdes Sereno, Maria Ressa, Michel Forst, PH rights defenders, Rodrigo Duterte, Salvador Panelo, UN report
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