“‘Human rights crisis’’ deepens in Philippines, group claims
A‘’human rights crisis in the Philippines deepened” in 2018 as the Duterte administration continues a war against illegal drugs, according to Human Rights Watch group.
“The human rights crisis in the Philippines unleashed since President Rodrigo Duterte took office in June 2016 deepened in 2018 as Duterte continued his murderous “war on drugs” in the face of mounting international criticism,” HRW said on their latest report on Thursday.
The rights group said the guilty verdict of the three Manila police for the death of Kian delos Santos as a “rare triumph” accountability of the Philippines
HRW said the Duterte administration’s “war on drugs” continued in 2018 and expanded into areas outside the capital, Metro Manila, including to the provinces of Bulacan, Laguna, Cavite, and the cities of Cebu and General Santos.
Citing the records of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), a total of 4,948 suspected drug users and dealers died during police operations from July 1, 2016 to September 30, 2018.
“But this does not include the thousands of others killed by unidentified gunmen. According to the Philippine National Police (PNP), 22,983 such deaths since the “war on drugs” began are classified as ‘homicides under investigation’,” said HRW.
“The exact number of fatalities is difficult to ascertain because the government has failed to disclose official documents about the drug war,” it added.
HRW said the PNP and PDEA have issued contradictory statistics and stopped releasing figures of the case of these “homicides under investigation”.
It revealed that masked gunmen who took part in killings of alleged drug suspects appeared to be working closely with police, “casting doubt on government claims that most killings have been committed by vigilantes or rival drug gangs”.
“Duterte has vowed to continue his anti-drug campaign until his term ends in 2022. In July 2018, he again pledged to continue the ‘war on drugs’, saying ‘it will be as relentless and chilling as on the day it began,” HRW said.
“Duterte has also vowed to protect police officers and agents carrying out the ‘drug war’ from prosecution. Except for a few high-profile cases, the killings have not been investigated,” it added.
Last Thursday, PNP Director General Oscar Albayalde said they are “winning” in their war against drugs as crime volume continues to decline and improvement on peace and order can be seen. Ella Dionisio/DMS