Rights group says Duterte’s anti-drug war encourages ‘culture of impunity’

Jun. 02, 2022

Photo from Karapatan’s Facebook page

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines — Continuing the present government’s anti-drug war by the next administration will not solve the country’s spate of killings but will “encourage a culture of impunity”, human rights alliance Karapatan said Tuesday, May 31.

Karapatan’s reaction came days after the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) released its report on the killings in Duterte’s drug war.

“Despite the CHR’s damning report indicting the Duterte administration for failure to protect human rights in the sham and bloody drug war, Duterte wants the incoming Marcos-Duterte administration to continue this murderous campaign,” said Cristina Palabay, Karapatan’s secretary-general.

Karapatan feared that this would result to “more killings, and even more impunity”.

Indictment vs Duterte admin

The CHR’s report, which was completed this April, presented 883 drug-related cases involving 1,139 victims, and it found that “the government has failed in its obligation to respect and protect the human rights of every citizen, in particular, victims of drug-related killings.”

Meanwhile, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency has noted that at least 6,248 have been killed in anti-drug operations, as of April 2022.

“The culture of impunity is even more highlighted by the lack of effective, prompt, and transparent accountability mechanisms to address the drug-related killings,” the CHR reported.

Palabay said that such findings from the CHR should push international mechanisms such as the International Criminal Court (ICC) to continue their investigations.

“The CHR’s report clearly states, verbatim, that ‘justice remains elusive’ for the victims of the sham drug war and their families – precisely because of the failure of domestic accountability mechanisms due to the Duterte administration’s blatant efforts to stonewall independent inquiries and investigations. The ICC should therefore resume its investigations as soon as possible to prosecute Duterte,” Palabay said.

Continuing impunity

In a press briefing Thursday last week, President-elect Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos Jr. disclosed that he and Duterte met several times even before the elections, and that the outgoing president asserted the continuation of the drug war in one of their conversations.

Marcos also suggested that Duterte, whose one of the top priority agenda in his six-year term was to eliminate the country’s drug trade, is welcome to join his incoming administration as its anti-drug czar.

The incoming president, according to Palabay, has pledged not to allow the ICC to enter the country to fulfill its mandate. “We suspect that the incoming Marcos-Duterte administration will place more roadblocks in the people’s struggle for justice and accountability, and to continue the Duterte administration’s legacy of impunity,” she said.

In several of his presidential speeches, Duterte has no qualms in asserting that he will kill those involved in the drug business and even ordered law enforcement agents to shoot civilians to defend themselves during the conduct of their duty.

With the current situation, Palabay said the fight to defend people’s rights and to call to stop the killings in the Philippines is now more urgent. “We cannot allow the killings to continue for another six years. We cannot allow impunity and terror to reign,” she said. (davaotoday.com)

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