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EDITORIAL: Accountability Matters

IN democracy, no individual, not even a former president, should be above the law or beyond scrutiny.

The recent invitation extended by the House of Representatives committee on human rights to former President Rodrigo Duterte to address allegations of extrajudicial killings during his administration’s “war on drugs” is a significant step toward ensuring accountability and transparency in governance.

Former President Duterte’s administration was marked by a controversial and aggressive campaign against illegal drugs, which has drawn both national and international criticism for its alleged human rights abuses.

The invitation to Duterte, along with former Philippine National Police chief and current Senator Ronald Dela Rosa, represents an opportunity to shed light on these allegations and to provide a platform for those who were affected by the drug war to be heard.

Rep. Bienvenido Abante Jr., the panel chair, emphasized the importance of fairness and respect during the hearings. This assurance is crucial in maintaining the integrity of the process and ensuring that the proceedings are conducted without bias.

It is essential for the committee to create an environment where all parties, including the former president, can present their perspectives and evidence without fear of prejudice.

However, Duterte’s decision to decline the invitation and invoke his right against self-incrimination, as conveyed by his former spokesperson Harry Roque, raises questions about the willingness of former officials to engage in this critical process of accountability.

While the constitutional right against self-incrimination must be respected, the refusal to participate in these hearings may be perceived as a lack of transparency and a reluctance to confront the serious allegations head-on.

The House committee’s investigation is not just about apportioning blame; it is about understanding the full scope of what transpired during the drug war, including the experiences of the victims’ families and the broader societal impact.

The inquiry aims to gather comprehensive information that will inform future policies and ensure that such alleged abuses do not recur.

The significance of this hearing extends beyond the individuals involved; it is about reinforcing the principles of justice and human rights that underpin our democracy.

By holding former leaders accountable, we reaffirm our commitment to these values and set a precedent that no one is immune from scrutiny.

The invitation to former President Duterte and other key figures in his administration is a vital step toward achieving accountability and transparency. It is an opportunity for the former president to address the allegations directly and for the committee to gather crucial information.

While Duterte’s decision to decline attendance is his constitutional right, his participation would have demonstrated a commitment to transparency and accountability.

The House committee’s continued efforts to investigate and report on these allegations are essential in upholding the rule of law and ensuring that justice is served for all citizens.


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