PHILIPPINES: Drug-related killings must stop and the perpetrators should be held accountable

A Statement from Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights (KARAPATAN) forwarded by the Asian Human Rights Commission.

Karapatan today joined RISE UP!, a campaign initiated by faith-based groups, institutions and people’s organizations against the drug menace and for the protection of human and people’s rights against drug-related extrajudicial killings, in a protest action in front of the Department of Interior and Local Government office in Quezon City.

“Drug-related killings must stop and the perpetrators should be held accountable, whether government officials, police officers, or drug cartel operatives. It is unacceptable that the killings are justified or merely explained as ‘killed in legitimate police operations,’ ‘nanlaban‘ or ‘killed by unidentified assailants,'” Clamor said.

“Majority of the victims of drug-related killings come from poor communities. Their families chose not to pursue investigation and prosecution against the perpetrators out of fear and lack of resources. Thus, the climate of impunity reigns,” Clamor said. Karapatan called on the public “to uphold people’s and human rights amid a system that breeds the existence and proliferation of the illegal drug trade.”

“We will support efforts to educate the general public on the roots and impact of the global drug on the Filipino people, to document cases of drug-related killings, and to advocate against the brazen impunity by which these killings are conducted in direct violation of the right to due process,” said Jigs Clamor, Karapatan Deputy Secretary General.

Karapatan previously reported the use of President Rodrigo Duterte’s war against drugs in the conduct of counter-insurgency operations of the Philippine National Police in San Jose Del Monte, Bulacan, where four farmer activists were illegally arrested and detained last October on charges related to the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 (Republic Act RA 9165).

The farmers’ personal belongings were taken and their families were traumatized. They were wrongly accused as members of the New People’s Army (NPA) and one of them was mauled. The four are members of the Karahumi Farmers Association (KFA), an organization that has long been resisting the landgrabbing of more than 1,000 hectares of agricultural lands in Bulacan. Police authorities planted evidence against them. “Batak kami sa trabahohindi kami batak sa droga,” said one of the arrested farmers.

Three of the farmer activists were released from detention, while another KFA member, Romy “Nonoy” Gaitero, remains in jail.

“We are also receiving disturbing reports that the Armed Forces of the Philippines, even while the GRP has declared a unilateral ceasefire in relation to its peacetalkswith the NDFP, continues military operations under Oplan Bayanihan by encamping in civilian communities, threatening and harassing civilians suspected of being members of the NPA and conducts census of residents in the guise of Oplan Tokhang,” said Clamor.

Karapatan reiterated its call to Duterte to stop drug-related killings and to respect the people’s rights to due process.

“The drug menace can be eliminated without curtailing the basic rights of the people, especially of the poor. In fact, it is through upholding the rights of the people, especially social and economic rights, that the people can repudiate the use and trade of illegal drugs. The government should instead strive to improve the living conditions of the Filipinos, especially the marginalized, by providing them secure jobs with living wages, free education and health care, and land to cultivate,” Clamor concluded.###


The views shared in this statement do not necessarily reflect that of the AHRC.