By Argyll Cyrus Geducos
President Duterte yesterday told the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) and the Ombudsman (OMB) to first go through him before probing the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) for their alleged human rights violations while conducting military operations in Marawi City, Lanao del Sur.
Duterte, in a press conference following his two-hour State of the Nation Address (SONA) last night, said CHR and Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales should address their request to probe the government troops to him first as they are under his authority.
“I will not allow my men to go there to be investigated. Human Rights Commission, you address your request through me because the Armed Forces is under me and the police is under me,” Duterte said.
“And for the Ombudsman to refrain from citing them in contempt for what? Because I have the authority to give the final say whether they will attend [a probe] or not,” he added.
According to the Chief Executive, the CHR and the Ombudsman should not force him to go against them because it will not be good for the country.
Duterte said he recognizes the role of the Ombudsman to check on the government but he said it should also check the other side to get the whole story.
“Although the Ombudsman is to check on government. But if you fail to address also the atrocities of the other side, so that you can get the truth and the whole story, then do not investigate my army and police,” he said.
The President also asked the Ombudsman and the CHR to look into the ambush on the Presidential Security Group (PSG) by the New People’s Army (NPA) in North Cotabato last week first before probing the troops in Marawi.
“Imbestigahin na muna ng Human Rights ‘yung ambush nung sa Presidential Security Group. ‘Pag wala kayong report niyan, huwag mo kaming guluhin (CHR should first investigate the ambush on my Presidential Security Group. Don’t disturb us if you do not have a report on that),” he said.
Duterte, while threatening to abolish the CHR, said both the CHR and the Ombudsman should not solely focus on government men.
“Do not make it a one-sided affair. I will not allow it. As President, I will not allow it. Patas tayo (We are equal). Justice for all. What is sauce for the gander is sauce for the goose,” he said.
“If you have not as yet investigated the deaths of my police and military men, then do not f*** with us,” he added.
Duterte said the claims of the CHR and the Ombudsman might discourage the military and the police from doing their duties, particularly in quelling the threat of terrorism in Mindanao.
“Mahirap ‘yung ganun. Wala nang police pati military mag-report doon sa anong klaseng imbestiga[syon] (That is not appropriate. No police or soldier would report in Marawi if you would conduct an investigation just like that),” he said.