Alarm over ‘pace and scale’ of killings
President Rodrigo Duterte’s recent statements praising the police for killing 32 suspected drug offenders in one day encourage law enforcers to commit abuses and disregard rules in the bloody war on drugs, according to the Commission on Human Rights (CHR).
CHR chair Chito Gascon said in a press conference on Friday that the “pace and scale” of the recent killings in Bulacan and Metro Manila that resulted in a double-digit death toll in just one day was “unprecedented” in the year-old antidrug campaign.
In what seems to be an intensification of the campaign, police killed 32 people in Bulacan province in separate operations early in the week.
Dozens of others were killed by the police in Manila and Caloocan City in similar operations a few days later.
Unknown assailants also killed several drug suspects in Quezon City and Marikina.
Reacting to the Bulacan police report, Mr. Duterte said 32 kills in one night was a “good” thing, adding that if that were the daily toll, the country could be rid of the drug menace.
Gascon said such statements “emboldened” security forces to commit abuses and “created conditions for impunity to prevail” where “no one is held into account.”
CHR Commissioner Gwen Pimentel-Gana said the CHR was investigating around 600 drug-related cases in which 800 people had been killed.
However, only 23 cases have been filed with state prosecutors and only one case — the killings of a father and son in Pasay in July 2016 — has been filed in court.
“A singular case — this is unacceptable,” Gascon said. “We need to make sure that our prosecutors do their job of investigating thoroughly all of these cases and filing appropriate charges.”
“Otherwise,” he said, “the climate of impunity … perpetuated and promoted by President Duterte will create the conditions of ratcheting up the body count.”
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