MANILA – Malacañang on Thursday shrugged off a human rights watchdog’s report that showed that drug-related killings in the country worsened as the country continues to grapple with the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque declined to comment on the Human Rights Watch’s (HRW) claim that the police killed 50 percent more people between April and July this year than they did in the previous four-month period.

“Wala po akong reaksiyon diyan dahil hindi ako sigurado kung anong methodology ang ginawa nila (I have no reaction on that report because I’m not sure what methodology they used),” Roque said in a virtual presser.

He said he could not simply accept the conclusions reached by the watchdog without reviewing the report.

“Hindi ko naman po pupuwedeng tanggapin ang conclusion ng hindi ko nakikita iyong pag-aaral. Hindi ko po nakikita kung ano iyong hakbang na ginawa nila para magkaroon ng conclusion (I cannot just accept the conclusion without seeing the study. I have not seen what steps were taken to arrive at that conclusion),” Roque said.

He, however, said it was usual for human rights groups to make noise about issues to be heard.

“Ganyan talaga ang trabaho ng mga human rights groups. Mag-ingay para iyong mga gobyerno eh pakinggan sila. Pero hindi naman ibig sabihin na lahat ng sinasabi nila ay gospel truth (That’s how human rights groups work. They make noise so the government would listen to them. But it does not mean that everything they say is gospel truth),” Roque said.

He has repeatedly assured that the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte does not tolerate police abuse and other human rights violations.

Charges would be filed against law enforcers if concrete evidence proves that they are guilty, Roque said.

The HWR said it analyzed government statistics and found 155 persons were killed in the past four months compared to only 103 persons killed from December 2019 to March 2020.

Government data showed that more than 5,600 people were killed in anti-drug operations since July 2016.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra announced the creation of an inter-agency panel that would investigate these drug-related deaths during the 44th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council on June 30. (PNA)