UNCHR says PH drug war’s death toll ‘extraordinarily high’
MANILA, Philippines — United Nations (UN) High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet on Monday said the human rights situation in the Philippines is being monitored “very closely” as the death toll in the country’s drug war has been “extraordinarily high.”
“My Office is following the situation of human rights in the Philippines very closely. The extraordinarily high number of deaths – and persistent reports of extrajudicial killings – in the context of campaigns against drug use continue,” Bachelet said at the 41st session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva.
The Philippine National Police (PNP) earlier disclosed that 6,600 persons were killed in President Rodrigo Duterte’s campaign against illegal drugs from July 2016 to May 2019.
Bachelet reiterated her call for “comprehensive and transparent information” from the authorities, adding that the information would “help regain trust” for authorities here.
“There should also be comprehensive and transparent information from the authorities on the circumstances around the deaths and investigations related to allegations of violations. These could dispel any false allegations and help regain trust for the authorities,” Bachelet said.
Bachelet also claimed that human rights defenders in the country are receiving death threats “sometimes publicly, from senior government officials.”
“Human rights defenders, including activists for land rights and the rights of indigenous peoples; journalists; lawyers; members of the Catholic clergy; and others who have spoken out – notably the Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples – have received threats, sometimes publicly, from senior government officials,” Bachelet said.
“This creates a very real risk of violence against them, and undermines rule of law as well as the right to freedom of expression,” Bachelet added.
While the figures on drug war are not yet official, PNP spokesperson Col. Bernard Banac said that the death toll is “definitely small” compared to the arrests made by the police.
“Hindi naman ibig sabihin na may namatay ay pababayaan na lang natin. Hangga’t maaari ay wala pong masawi sa ating anti-drug operations (When somebody dies, it does not mean we are going to ignore it. As much as possible, we want to avoid casualties in anti-drug operations),” said Banac. (Editor: Eden Estopace)
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