Fighting drug war abuse? Know your rights
How can people fight the “abusive” and “illegal” war on drugs?
Arm them with knowledge of the law and human rights. Then teach them how to fight for these.
The Center for International Law (CenterLaw) did exactly this on Saturday for more than 50 residents of Santa Ana, Manila, many of whom had lost loved ones to the war on drugs and were being harassed by police to keep them silent.
“The drug war is not a war, it’s just a terrible policy, especially because the police are taking advantage of it,” lawyer Cristina Antonio told the participants.
As a policy, the war on drugs is “a violation of the law,” Antonio added.
The seminar was held days after CenterLaw filed a petition in the Supreme Court on behalf of the participants asking for protection from police harassment and intimidation over the killings of their loved ones.
Writ of amparo
Named respondents in the petition for a writ of amparo (protection) were officials of the Manila Police District and the Philippine National Police.
Days after the filing of the petition, policemen allegedly tried to force Rose Mationg, a barangay peace officer in Santa Ana, to write a letter saying “EJK (extrajudicial killing) is OK.”
The officers said they wanted the letter notarized and demanded to see Mationg’s ID.
But Mationg told off the policemen.
“I said I don’t have any ID with me right now, notarization is not possible,” she said.
The policemen left and never came back, she added.
During the seminar, Antonio taught the residents what remedies were available to them, which government agencies to go to, the tasks of the Ombudsman and the Commission on Human Rights, and the limitations of police authority.
She also taught the residents how to document other cases in the area, telling them that sworn statements could be used in court as evidence.