Pubdate: Mon, 22 Aug 2016
Source: Manila Bulletin (The Philippines)


THE Senate opens today an inquiry into the ongoing anti-drugs 
campaign of the Duterte administration which has already resulted in 
hundreds of deaths, thousands of arrests, and tens of thousands of 
surrenders of both pushers and users. Over 800 had already been 
killed by the middle of last month and the figure continues to grow, 
raising fears of human rights violations.

In the last few days, there have been considerable fireworks around 
the person of Sen. Leila de Lima, whose Senate Committee on Justice 
and Human Rights is to conduct the inquiry. President Duterte has 
accused her of having an affair with her driver who allegedly 
collected drug money for her inside the New Bilibid Prison. Last 
Friday, she called most of the charges "lies, distortions, and 
exaggerations," but did admit some of it were true  "may kaunting totoo."

The entire exchange of charges may affect the public's response to 
the inquiry, but the senator said it will be held as scheduled. She 
said she fully supports the President's war on drugs, but laws may 
need to be enacted both to ensure the rule of law and to help the 
police in carrying out their duties.

Until the new administration began its anti-drugs campaign, no one in 
government appeared to be aware of the magnitude of the problem. 
Suddenly, even before the start of the new administration, killings 
began to be reported all over the country in unprecedented numbers, 
along with arrests and surrenders by drug suspects and users.

There seem to be two kinds of killings, Senator De Lima said. There 
are those who resist arrest and are shot to death. Then there are 
so-called vigilante killings  bodies just turn up in out-of-the-way 
places with a crudely written placard saying "Drug pusher. Huwag 
tularan." One suspicion is that drug gangs are eliminating business rivals.

There have been witnesses, mothers and other family members, 
questioning the manner in which some suspects were shot dead by 
arresting officers. Some of the witnesses will testify at the Senate hearing.

The police, led by the chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP), 
Director General Ronald de la Rosa, will be at the hearing as well to 
give their official report. They should be able to answer any 
questions that may arise during the hearing.

Aside from the killings, other matters may come up in the Senate. The 
ongoing anti-drugs campaign has exposed such a big number of drug 
users in the country today, so that it is no longer just a 
law-enforcement problem but a public health one.

We hope, as Senator De Lima said, that the Senate inquiry will help 
the administration in carrying out its anti-drugs campaign more 
thoroughly, more effectively, keeping true to the rule of law and 
universal human rights.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom