‘Duterte plunged PH into worst human rights crisis since Marcos’–HRW
President Duterte has brought the Philippines into its “worst human rights crisis” since 1986, New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) said.
“President Rodrigo Duterte has plunged the Philippines into its worst human rights crisis since the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos in the 1970s and 1980s,” HRW wrote in its World Report 2018 released Thursday.
Duterte’s crackdown against illegal drugs launched after he took office in June 2016 snuffed the lives out of about 4,000 drug suspects, according to Philippine National Police (PNP) data as of September 2017. However, human rights advocates said the number could be as high as 12,000.
HRW deputy Asia director Phelim Kine said Duterte “has not only resisted calls to end his brutal ‘drug war,’ but has used populist rhetoric to disparage the brave activists who have been investigating and denouncing his cruel campaign.”
“Since Duterte will never undertake a serious investigation into the ‘war on drugs,’ it’s up to the United Nations to support an international investigation and bring the mass killings to a stop,” Kine said.
The group cited the continued detention of Senator Leila De Lima, one of Duterte’s prominent critics, the public ridicule of United Nations special rapporteur Agnes Callamard, and the harassments, both online and offline, of human rights defenders.
“In August, Duterte encouraged police attacks against human rights groups and advocates, instructing the police to shoot them ‘if they are obstructing justice.’ Duterte has publicly condemned the official Commission on Human Rights, even threatening to abolish the constitutionally mandated body,” HRW wrote.
The HRW also noted Duterte’s public vilification of media outlets whose journalists have exposed the police’s culpability in the drug-related killings.
“In April, he threatened to block the renewal of the broadcasting franchise of ABS-CBN network. In July, Duterte publicly threatened the Philippine Daily Inquirer with tax evasion charges and falsely accused the media platform Rappler of being US-owned in an apparent effort to undermine its credibility,” the watchdog added.
On Monday, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) ordered the revocation of Rappler’s articles of incorporation for allegedly violating ownership rules.
The body claimed that Rappler’s Philippine depositary receipts (PDR) issued to one of its foreign investors, Omidyar Network, require the news company to seek the investor’s approval on corporate matters.
Rappler CEO Maria Ressa has denied the allegations, saying the order to shut down the news outfit was a political pressure over their stories critical of the administration.
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