Pubdate: Thu, 01 Sep 2016
Source: Philippine Star (Philippines)
Copyright: PhilSTAR Daily Inc. 2016
Author: Janvic Mateo


As the casualties in the government's war on drugs continue to pile 
up, the Philippines faces a "human rights calamity," according to 
Human Rights Watch.

Phelim Kine, Human Rights Watch (HRW) Asia deputy director, said at 
an ABS-CBN News Channel forum on human rights Tuesday night that the 
number of suspects killed in the hands of police in the first eight 
weeks of the Duterte administration is 10 times higher than those who 
died in the first six months of the year.

"What we've been seeing in the Philippines since June 30th when 
President Duterte took office is a human rights calamity," Kine said.

"This is nothing less than absolute human rights disaster. We have 
the highest elected official of the land openly, actively, 
aggressively calling for the extrajudicial killing of criminal 
suspects," Kine lamented.

He added: "This is an emergency situation and the government, instead 
of responding to this with an urgent, impartial investigation to find 
out why and how the police have killed more than 700 people in the 
last eight weeks... your government is not just sitting on its hands, 
it's actively encouraging the police to continue with this behavior 
and at the same time calling on the public to kill suspected criminals."

Based on latest data from the Philippine National Police, figures on 
police-related killings have risen to 900. Kine said the number does 
not include alleged drug personalities that unidentified assailants 
killed, which has reached to around 1,000.

"The numbers are absolutely shocking," he said.

"This is absolutely a disastrous situation because of the number of 
people killed in such a short period of time."

Chief Supt. Dennis Siervo, PNP Human Rights Office chief, said those 
killed during police operations had fought back.

"There is a presumption of regularity," he said.

Siervo said investigations are being conducted on some cases, such as 
in the shooting of a drug suspect and his father inside a police 
station and the killing of a pedicab driver who was caught on tape 

"We respect and uphold human rights, but in the process, in the 
conduct of arrests, there is severe resistance that we are facing, 
that's why we also have to neutralize the suspect," he said.

However, Kine wants to know why the number of police-related killings 
has risen during the current administration.

"This government is trashing the very concept of rule of law and that 
is a very dangerous road for the Philippines to travel," he said.

"You don't approach a complex criminal problem by throwing out the 
rulebook and deciding that the only way to do this is to kill people 
without due process. You are on a road to complete anarchy and savagery."

Martin Dino of Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption, a supporter 
of Duterte, said impartial bodies like the Commission on Human Rights 
and the National Bureau of Investigation can investigate allegations 
of extrajudicial killings.

People feel safer as criminals are being hunted down, he added.

However, Kine said the lack of due process robs people killed of the 
opportunity to defend themselves.

"We have no idea who those people were and what they might have been 
because they never saw a lawyer, they never got into a court, they 
were denied due legal process which is the foundation of the rule of 
law," he said.

Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano decried what he called as an effort to 
discredit President Duterte in the international community by linking 
him to alleged extra-judicial killings in the war against illegal 
drugs in the country.

In a privilege speech delivered yesterday, Cayetano singled out Sen. 
Leila de Lima and Commission on Human Rights head Jose Luis Martin 
Gascon for making it appear that the President is behind the killings 
of suspected drug pushers, the number of which has risen to over 2,000.

De Lima is leading an ongoing Senate inquiry into the alleged 
extrajudicial killings, which has drawn the ire not only of President 
Duterte, but also his supporters.

Cayetano, a staunch supporter of the President, questioned De Lima on 
her neutrality, accusing her of already having a judgment on the 
killings even before she has heard all sides of the story.

"De Lima said that the killings can lead to charges of crimes against 
humanity. The people charged with this are mad men or those with 
cases of genocide," Cayetano said.

"How can you be neutral when you are saying that?" he added, 
referring to a statement made by De Lima about the possibility of 
Duterte being brought before the International Criminal Court.

As for Gascon, Cayetano said that it was wrong for him to classify 
the killing of the suspected drug pushers as extrajudicial killings.

Cayetano said that common crimes such as murder or homicide cases 
involving suspected drug pushers are not extrajudicial killings.

"Why are you destroying the image of the Philippines? Why are you 
inviting trade sanctions from the EU (European Union)?" Cayetano said.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom