UP Law students condemn extrajudicial killings, urge rule of law
The University of the Philippines College of Law Student Government (UP-LSG) has condemned the spate of killings in the Duterte administration’s bloody war against illegal drugs and criminality.
Citing the Bill of Rights and due process clause in the Constitution, the student body called for the upholding of the rule of law and protection of fundamental human rights in the government’s anti-drug campaign.
“While we recognize government efforts to fight criminality as part of police power of the state, we cannot condone these acts of vigilantism and apparent disregard to life and due process of our fellow Filipinos,” UP-LSG said in a statement.
“The Law Student Government believes that measures to combat illegal drugs must be carried out under a framework that respects human rights—one that upholds the right to fair trial, eliminates impunity, and sees drug abuse as a public health concern that must be addressed with humanity and not violence,” it added.
The student council lamented that the “growing social tolerance” for vigilante killings was an outright disregard for basic human rights enshrined in the highest law of the land.
“The government’s inaction and implicit recognition of this culture of violence have created a society that accepts it as a legitimate means to end criminality at the expense of due process…Every death of an individual who never had his day in court to refute the charges levied against him is an outrage against this nation’s basic beliefs,” it said.
“Only by addressing the socio-economic roots of criminality can one make headway in the fight against it. The UP Law Student Government is one with the United Nations in calling for measures in combating the problem of substance abuse but at the same time ensuring the right to fair trial and elimination of impunity. Poverty alleviation and drug rehabilitation programs are essential to bringing down drug-related crimes,” the council added.
Contradicting President Rodrigo Duterte’s statement that the public should not expect due process from him as he is not the court, the law students called on the President to ensure that rule of law will prevail and pursue investigations on the drug-related killings as head of the enforcing executive branch.
“The executive branch is and should always be the vanguard of due process rights of individuals. As enforcers of the law, it is incumbent upon the executive branch to make sure that protocols and procedures reflect the respect for the due process rights of individuals,” the statement read.
“The ‘shoot now, ask questions later’ attitude that has been apparent in police operations must be put to an end. We call upon the President to pursue and investigate all cases of extrajudicial killings whether they are perpetrated by vigilantes or law enforcement officers who act with excessive force that rob individuals of their lives. Regardless of who are responsible for these extrajudicial killings, the government must investigate and account for them,” it added.
As of August 15, the Inquirer’s “Kill List” has 646 drug-related deaths since June 30 or after Duterte took office.
The Philippine National Police on Thursday said the number of persons killed in “legitimate operations” was at 665, while the total of deaths “under investigation” was at 899. RAM/rga
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