Drug war still gravest human rights concern in Philippines – HRW
MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte’s drug war has remained to be the Philippines’ “gravest human rights concern” in 2019, international watchdog Human Rights Watch (HRW) said Wednesday.
The international human rights group came out with a 652-page world report, according to HRW Deputy Asia Director Phil Robertson, and still tags Duterte’s war on drugs as a brutal campaign which architects should be made accountable.
“President Duterte’s anti-drug campaign remains as brutal as when it started, with drug suspects being killed regularly across the country,” Robertson explained. “Four years into the ‘drug war,’ the need for international mechanisms to provide accountability is as great as ever.”
The Duterte administration has been criticized for its alleged blatant disregard of human rights in the name of its drug war.
Just recently, a survey firm revealed that 73 percent of Filipinos believe that human rights violations were committed in the conduct of the war against drugs although Malacañang insisted that it was only because critics have demonized the campaign.
HRW also pointed out that no government official has even been convicted for the drug war killings. Save for the three Caloocan policemen, who were convicted of murder for the death of Kian delos Santos in August 2017.
“Except for three police officers involved in a highly publicized killing in August 2017, no one has been convicted in any ‘drug war’ killings. Duterte continued to defend the drug war and promised to protect law enforcement officers who killed drug suspects in these raids,” HRW noted.
According to HRW, they hoped for a better approach to the campaign against illegal drugs when Duterte appointed Vice President Leni Robredo as a co-chair of the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD). However, HRW added, it went for naught when Duterte decided to fire Robredo just 18 days into her tenure.
Recently, Robredo released a report based on her observation while in ICAD, labeling the drug war as a “massive failure” for only constricting one percent of the total police estimate of illegal drugs and drug money entering the country yearly.
Attacks on the Left
Aside from the drug war, HRW also chided the Duterte administration for its supposed attacks on left-leaning groups, which are labeled as members of the communist forces.
“As with the anti-drug campaign, the Duterte administration has done little to investigate and prosecute those responsible for politically motivated attacks against activists. Duterte has instead seemingly encouraged such attacks, for instance, in August calling on the military to ‘implement a more severe’ against the insurgency,” HRW said
“There are sadly no signs that President Duterte is going to end ‘drug war’ killings or act to stop attacks on activists,” Robertson added. “That makes it all the more important for international institutions like the International Criminal Court and the UN Human Rights Council to do what they can to hold Duterte and other senior officials to account for their abuses.”
State forces have justified the arrests several times, claiming that firearms have been recovered from the suspects. They have likewise accused so-called leftist groups as legal fronts of the communist movement.
In August 2019, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesperson Brig. Gen. Edgard Arevalo said the New People’s Army should not be treated differently from the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and National Democratic Front (NDF).
NPA is the armed wing while NDF is the political arm of CPP.
Edited by KGA
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.