DAVAO CITY, Philippines — A church-based group on Tuesday urged the Government Republic of the Philippines and the National Democratic Front to include in the next round of peace talks, the spate of drug-related killings across the country.
“We expresses our deep concern for the onslaught of senseless killings that have gripped poor communities throughout the nation. As we seek appropriate venues to bring these drug-related killings to sober investigation, we recognize that the respect of the human dignity and human rights of our kababayan is an essential component of building a just and lasting peace in our nation,” Fr. Gilbert Billena, O.Carm., spokesperson of Rise Up for Life and for Rights, said in a statement on Tuesday.
According to the group, both the GRP-NDFP peace should include in their peace talks the drug-related killings which were carried out with “impunity” and have “escalated to epidemic proportions.”
The group “challenges both parties to investigate the rampant drug-related killings being conducted with impunity under the thinly-veiled state sanction of a so-called ‘war against drugs.’”
The spate of drug-related killings in the country, according to the group, has underscored “that police and alleged state-sanctioned killers should be accused of human rights violations and extra-judicial killings in poor communities.”
The church group’s statement came as it is set to file cases because of the perceived gross human rights violations committed by the government authorities on the conduct of its violent crackdown against illegal use and trade of drugs in the country.
“Under the current climate of impunity where perpetrators are not held accountable for their crimes and violations of human rights, these killings will continue unabated, if not further escalate. We strongly believe that the peace talks between the GRP and the NDFP can be a place where this urgent concern is raised,” it pointed out.
It also urged both parties to implement the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law amid the drug war being wage by the Duterte administration.
“CARHRIHL clearly provides a framework for addressing our concerns. Included in the CARHRIHL objectives is to guarantee the protection of human rights to all Filipinos under all circumstances especially the workers, peasants and other poor people,” the group said in its open letter.
“With this concrete avenue for action, we are joining with victims of human rights violations and their families in filing cases against the GRP through the GRP-NDFP Joint Monitoring Committee that monitors the implementation of CARHRIHL. With strongly believe that these drug-related killings must be prioritized in the upcoming peace talks as a significant threat and obstacle to building a just and lasting peace, especially in financially disenfranchised (poor) communities,” the group concluded. (davaotoday.com)