Tag Archives: War on Drugs

[Statement] on the announcement of the Justice Secretary regarding the release of the first partial report of the review of the deaths resulting from the conduct of anti illegal-drug operations -CHR

#HumanRights #StopTheKillingsPH

Statement of CHR Commissioner Karen Gomez-Dumpit on the announcement of the Justice Secretary regarding the release of the first partial report of the review of the deaths resulting from the conduct of anti illegal-drug operations

The Commission on Human Rights acknowledges the announcement of Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra regarding the release of the partial report conducted by a high-level inter-agency panel of the thousands of deaths resulting from the conduct of recent anti-illegal drug operations.

We consider the government’s action as a step towards ensuring accountability and addressing impunity. However, we regret that the Commission on Human Rights was not involved in the review, contrary to the commitments and assurances made by the government during the 44th Session of the Human Rights Council. This is an unfulfilled promise to Filipinos and the entire community of nations.

The government then announced that “as with all human rights-related mechanisms in the country, the Commission on Human Rights would be involved in its capacity as an independent monitoring body” and would play an important role in the high-level inter-agency panel. The panel was likewise meant to “engage with affected families and provide them with legal options and assistance in the criminal prosecution of law enforcers who have overstepped legal bounds in their operations.” Read complete statement @ https://bit.ly/2XqUmuY

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[From the web] New PNP Chief a leading architect of the deadly drug war -AIph

New PNP Chief a leading architect of the deadly drug war

Responding to the appointment of PLtGen Camilo Cascolan as the new chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP), Amnesty International Philippines Section Director, Butch Olano, said

“PLtGen Cascolan is no stranger to the deadly drug war. As the PNP’s former operations chief and co-author of the murderous strategy behind Oplan Double Barrel, he has played a key role in enabling thousands of unlawful killings at the hands of the police. The fact that Cascolan has been promoted to the highest police position in the land shows the alarming levels of impunity in the country.

“Cascolan’s stated plan to use small-time drug pushers as ‘leads’ – instead of killing them – to build cases against drug lords is a blatant case of too little, too late. It is high time for the countless unlawful PNP killings, arbitrary arrests, acts of torture, ill-treatment and other abuses to end.

Please click the link below to read the complete article:

New PNP Chief a leading architect of the deadly drug war

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[Off-the-shelf] Philippines: New report reveals deliberate killings of children during “war on drugs”- by OMCT and CLRDC, Philippines

Philippines: New report reveals deliberate killings of children during “war on drugs”

Geneva (OMCT) – A new report, published today, documents 122 killings of children, from 1 to 17 years old, throughout the Philippines, between July 2016 and December 2019. The report, titled “How could they do this to my child?”, jointly published by the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and the Children’s Legal Rights and Development Center (CLRDC, Philippines), shows that the majority of the killings were carried out by police forces or affiliates.

The report is based on information directly collected from the locations where the children were killed, including interviews with local authorities, families and witnesses, and the examination of official documents related to each case. It identifies clear patterns for the killings, including the direct targeting of victims; killings of children as proxies when the real targets could not be found; as a result of mistaken identities; and as so-called “collateral damage”. The report details six cases, with the youngest victim a 20-month old girl.

In one particularly horrific case, a 7-year old boy was killed in cold blood because he had witnessed the murder of an adult by a member of the local authorities. The killings continue, with at least seven children killed from January to March 2020.

“These revelations must be a wake-up call for the international community, who has been largely absent as the Philippine government has kept trampling human rights”, said Gerald Staberock, OMCT Secretary-General. “Over the past four years, we have hardly seen any meaningful reaction to the wanton killing of thousands of people under the pretext of the “war on drugs”, the targeting of the poorest and most marginalized citizens of the Philippines, and the persecution of human rights defenders, many of whom are in prison for their legitimate work. It is the total lack of accountability that feeds the cycle of violence, including the war on children we are witnessing.”

It is estimated that the total number of extrajudicial killings in the framework of the Philippine government’s anti-drug campaign may run as high as 27,000. Only in one case did the policemen involved get convicted.

This impunity, and the fact that most victims are poor and vulnerable, further increase a climate of terror created by the “war on drugs”. Practically all the families and witnesses interviewed for this report have asked to remain anonymous. Many of them did not file a case for the murder of their child, fearing retaliation. With parents often too afraid to testify, even anonymously, it is likely that the actual numbers of children killed are higher than the 122 documented in the report.

As the United Nations Human Rights Council is about to examine the record of the Philippines, the report sets out detailed recommendations, including for the creation of an independent commission of inquiry into human rights violations in the Philippines, with a special focus on children.

Full access to the report.

The World Organization Against Torture (OMCT) is the main global coalition of NGOs fighting torture and ill-treatment, with 200 members in more than 90 countries. Its international secretariat is based in Geneva, Switzerland.

The Children’s Legal Rights and Development Center (CLRDC) is the leading child rights organisation in the Philippines.

Media Contact: Iolanda Jaquemet, ij@omct.org, mobile +41 79 539 41 06

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[Off-the-shelf] The Killing State: The Unrelenting War Against Human Rights -PhilRights

Findings of the 2017-2019 Documentation of Extrajudicial Killings (EJK) committed in the context of the so-called War on Drugs
by the Philippine Human Rights Information Center

Since Rodrigo Duterte’s inauguration as the 16th president of the Philippines in 2016, the country has witnessed a steep surge in gross violations of human rights. Three years into his presidency, President Duterte’s so-called war on drugs continues without letup, despite his own admission that the drug problem has not been—and cannot be—solved.

The number of victims continues to mount and the violence and brutality are just as severe. Extrajudicial killings (EJKs) have become the hallmark of the Duterte administration’s governance.

The challenges to human rights organizations are as urgent as ever: to respond to the rise in cases of gross human rights violations, to provide support and intervention to victims and families, to campaign for rule of law and respect for human rights, and to fight against impunity. Among these challenges is the urgent task of documenting the cases of violations, so that they are not erased from public memory, and to gather evidence that could be used for exacting accountability.

PhilRights’ documentation abides by the principles and investigation guidelines set by The Minnesota Protocol on the Investigation of Potentially Unlawful Deaths (2016).2 This document, also known as the Minnesota Protocol, was issued by the Office of the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights (OHCHR) to set international legal standards to prevent unlawful deaths and investigate extra-legal, summary, and arbitrary executions.

The Minnesota Protocol clarifies that a “potentially unlawful death” may (1) have been due to the acts or omission of the State, its organs or agents including law enforcers, paramilitary groups, militias or death squads allegedly “acting under the direction or with the permission or acquiescence of the State,” and “private military or security forces exercising State functions,” (2) have happened when the victim was in detention by or in custody of the State, its organs or agents, and (3) have been due to the failure of the State to fulfill its obligation in protecting life. Under international law, a “potentially unlawful death” is the product of an arbitrary, summary, or extra-legal execution or an alleged extrajudicial killing. In the event that the victim survived the incident, the violation is referred to as “frustrated or attempted extrajudicial killing.”

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The Killing State: The Unrelenting War Against Human Rights

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[In the news] Watch drug war documentary before dismissing it, says filmmaker -INQUIRER.net

MANILA, Philippines — A British filmmaker is urging President Rodrigo Duterte and his supporters to watch his documentary on the war on drugs before dismissing it as mere ‘black propaganda’.

James Jones said his team did not come to the Philippines with a biased notion of the Duterte administration’s drug war, contrary to recent statements by Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo that the film “On the President’s Orders” ‘reeks of malice’.

“So the last question relates to President Duterte’s administration’s response this week, when the spokesman came out and described the film as black propaganda which reeks of malice, despite not having seen the film,” Jones said in a prepared video which was shown to reporters after a private screening on Wednesday night.

“You know it’s not entirely unexpected if you make a film about the drug war and you’re a foreign journalist, it comes with a territory, I suppose. But all I would say is that we didn’t come with a particular agenda,” he added.

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Watch drug war documentary before dismissing it, says filmmaker

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[In the news] HUMAN RIGHTS GROUPS: Concealing drug war film’s venue says a lot about PH atmosphere of fear -INQUIRER.net

The decision to keep secret the venue of the latest advance screening of “On the President’s Orders” says a lot about the atmosphere of fear in the country, a human rights advocate said on Wednesday night.

“Haven’t we pondered if our situation today is not normal? The fact that we have to hide, that we have to scrutinize people who would watch the documentary with us, isn’t that unusual?” said Dr. Nymia Simbulan, executive director of the nongovernment Philippine Human Rights Information Center (Philrights).

“That the government is saying that we are free, that democracy exists, but there are doubts, fears, and the conscious decision to be on guard. This proves that there is something wrong with the current government,” Simbulan told reporters gathered in Quezon City.

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Concealing drug war film’s venue says a lot about PH atmosphere of fear

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[In the news] Drug war killings must be told, says Emmy winner director Jones -GMAnews

ON THE PRESIDENT’S ORDERS
Drug war killings must be told, says Emmy winner director Jones

“On The President’s Orders” could pass as an action film about the murky world of drugs, politics and crime that people looking for thrilling entertainment watch, except that some of its scenes were real-life happenings.

A CCTV footage used in the movie showed a tricycle driver waiting for a passenger in Caloocan City with his toddler kid inside the vehicle. Moments later, in broad daylight, he was shot dead by an unidentified gunman in a motorcycle.

Scenes showing police operations in communities — knocking on houses, interrogations, arrests, buy-bust, and the like — were shot based on testimonies of victims and their families, who have actually experienced the brunt of President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs.

Read more @www.gmanetwork.com

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[From the web] The Uncounted Dead of Duterte’s Drug War -The Atlantic

All Jefferson Soriano wanted was to go to bed. But the power was out, his tiny room felt like a furnace, and his friend Manuel Borbe had come by. The pair walked outside to chat and get some air, eventually stopping for a late-night coffee along a busy road.

Soriano and Borbe had lived nearly their entire lives in the area, a shantytown in a Manila community called Holy Spirit, and had met as teens on a neighborhood basketball court. They had been friends ever since, growing up together, and now both were new fathers in their 30s struggling to make ends meet—Soriano by working odd jobs in grocery stores and fast-food restaurants, Borbe as a construction worker.

At the time, Rodrigo Duterte’s first year as president of the Philippines was coming to a close, a violent period during which the government prosecuted a war on drugs, in which police swept down, arrested suspected drug sellers and conducted sting operations against them. Officers were given wide latitude to shoot, and kill, suspected drug dealers—ostensibly in self-defense—and Holy Spirit was one of the offensive’s epicenters.

Read more @www.theatlantic.com

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[From the web] Moreno says he supports war on drugs but with respect for human rights -INQUIRER.net

Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso on Wednesday said he fully supports the campaign against illegal drugs by President Rodrigo Duterte but it must have respect for human rights.

Moreno made the statement as he revealed that video karera machines and fruit (video) games were being used to sell and use drugs among the public.

“We will support, 101 percent. Ganon lang yun, kung ano yung syllabus, formula, rules, polisiya ng national, oh ito epektib yung ginagawa nila, oh edi i-adopt natin sa national,” he said briefly before he destroyed some of the video karera machines confiscated in police operations across Manila.

“Remember, we will reintegrate Manila to the national government. So kung ano ang kampanya sa national, yun narin ang magiging kampanya sa Maynila,” he added.

Moreno says he supports war on drugs but with respect for human rights

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[People] “No mother should bury her child.” -Sen. Leila de Lima

This is what every mother fears. Sadly, under this tyrannical Duterte regime and its failed War on Drugs, this is a tragic reality that thousands of mothers have gone through; a harrowing ordeal that they live with every day.

Global Health NOW’s article, “Elderly Mothers Bear the Emotional Burden of the Drug War” (6 June 2019), narrates the plight of 70-year-old Elvira Miranda and 60-year-old Carmelita Bajacan whose sons where shot and killed during an anti-drug police operation in Manila North Cemetery on August 3, 2017.

Almost two years have passed but, as Bianca Franco, a researcher at the Ateneo de Manila University who covered communities victimized by the drug war, aptly described it: “Their sons had been dead for a year or more, but these mothers wept like it happened yesterday.”

Bukod sa namamanglaw at nanghihinang katawan dahil sa kanilang edad, bukod sa pagdurusa at kalungkutang dala ng pagkamatay ng kanilang mga anak, naiwan sa mga tulad nina Ginang Elvira at Carmelita ang mabigat na pasaning arugain at itaguyod ang kinabukasan ng mga apong naulila ng kanilang mga magulang.

Sila po ay kabilang lamang sa libo-libong mga ina na hindi pa rin mapigil ang pagluha dahil sa malagim na trahedya, subalit kailangang maging matatag para sa pamilya at sa paghahanap ng hustisya. Bukod sa mga pinaslang ng karumal-dumal na War on Drugs ni Duterte, sila ang mukha ng mga biktima—mga itinuturing na “collateral damage” ng marahas na polisiyang maraming buhay ang sinayang at wala namang pinatunguhan.

Even when their children are laid to rest, these mothers’ pain will never truly disappear. They will never forget. Dadamdamin nila ang mapait na alaala hanggang sa kanilang huling hininga. They will continue to cry for justice for their sons, daughters, and even granchildren whose lives were cut short by an evil man who had the gall to play god.

Stop the killings! Justice for the victims!

Dispatch from Crame No. 530: Sen. Leila M. de Lima’s Reflection on “Elderly Mothers Bear the Emotional Burden of the Drug War”

6/9/19

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[From the web] Philippines ‘Drug War’ Top Cop Elected to Senate -HRW

International Criminal Court Should Investigate Ex-Police Chief

Many pundits have interpreted the recently concluded midterm elections in the Philippines as an endorsement of President Rodrigo Duterte’s “war on drugs.” Duterte’s favored candidates dominated the Senate, House, and local elections, prompting foreign affairs secretary Teodoro Locsin, Jr. to pronounce, “he [Duterte] and the war just won” and the “war goes on.”

However one views the election results, it won’t change the fact that victorious candidates implicated in “drug war” crimes shouldn’t receive a get-out-of-jail-free card. Newly elected senator Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa was Duterte’s police chief when the “drug war” began after Duterte took office in June 2016. Dela Rosa presided over a Philippine National Police that routinely shot and killed drug suspects, claiming without proof they resisted arrest. Investigations by rights groups, including Human Rights Watch, and the media found numerous instances in which the police planted weapons and drugs on victims to cover-up the killings.

The police say that over three years they killed about 5,300 drug suspects who fought back, an unverified claim that also ignores the role of police-backed vigilantes responsible for many more “drug war” killings. The governmental Commission on Human Rights estimates that more than 27,000 have died in the “drug war” – a number that grows daily as killings extend from Metro Manila to other urban areas.

Dela Rosa was as vociferous in carrying out and defending the “drug war” brutality as Duterte was in justifying it. “If many believe that the number of drug addicts has gone down,” he told reporters during his senate campaign, “then somehow we are successful.”

Dela Rosa may still have a date with justice. The Duterte government has shown it won’t carry out necessary investigations, but the International Criminal Court (ICC) could. Although the Philippines has officially withdrawn from the ICC, the court, which is conducting a preliminary examination into killings during the anti-drug campaign, can still investigate alleged crimes against humanity that occurred while Dela Rosa was police chief, and any other crimes “occurring in the future in the context of the same situation.” Now that Dela Rosa is a policymaker, there is renewed urgency in bringing all those responsible for “drug war” crimes to justice.

By Carlos H. Conde
Researcher, Asia Division
Human Rights Watch
@condeHRW

Read more @www.hrw.org

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[In the news] PNP reports on drug war show similar, cut-and-paste angles –FLAG -GMA news

Free Legal Assistance Group lawyers on Thursday said the small fraction of police reports on the war on drugs they have reviewed bore a “strikingly” similar and almost “cut-and-paste” style of accounts of the killings.

Incomplete records, lapses in police procedure, and unidentified assailants also marked FLAG’s findings from reports on 29 cases related to their pending petition at the Supreme Court against the anti-illegal drugs campaign, human rights lawyers Theodore Te and Chel Diokno said at a press conference.

These records that Diokno said support the anecdotal evidence they have gathered, do not yet include the documents the High Court just last Tuesday ordered the Office of the Solicitor General to provide them copies of.

Until they see them, Diokno, a senatorial candidate, said it is “hard to say” if they would spot similar observations in the remaining papers.

Read more @www.gmanetwork.com

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[In the news] Supreme Court orders release of all ‘Tokhang’ police reports -INQUIRER.net

Supreme Court orders release of all ‘Tokhang’ police reports

The Supreme Court has ordered the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) to release all ‘Oplan Tokhang’ police reports to human rights groups and victims that questioned the legality of the government’s war on drugs.

“The Court just ordered the Solicitor General to submit the police reports [related to Oplan Tokhang] to the Supreme Court copy furnishing the petitioners,” SC’s information chief and spokesperson Atty. Brian Keith Hosaka said at a press conference.

Petitioners that will be given copies are the Center for International Law (CenterLaw) on behalf of residents of 26 barangays in San Andres Bukid in Manila and the Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG).

Last February, the CenterLaw prodded the High Court to order the OSG, through Solicitor General Jose Calida to provide them copies of documents related to the government’s crackdown on illegal drugs.

Read more @newsinfo.inquirer.net

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[In the news] 29,000 deaths probed since drug war launched -PhilStar.com

29,000 deaths probed since drug war launched

At least 29,000 cases of killings categorized as deaths under inquiry (DUI) have been recorded nationwide since President Duterte launched his crackdown on illegal drugs, according to the Philippine National Police (PNP).

In an interview over The Chiefs on Cignal TV’s One News on Monday, PNP spokesman Col. Bernard Banac said the homicide cases under investigation were recorded from July 1, 2016 to Feb. 4.

Banac did not provide a breakdown of regions with the highest number of DUI cases.

 

Read full article @www.philstar.com

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[In the news] Bishop confirms death threats -Inquirer.net

Bishop confirms death threats

Bishop Pablo Virgilio David, whom President Rodrigo Duterte threatened to kill, has been receiving death threats.

On Tuesday, David said his life was in danger so he decided to skip the Ka Pepe Diokno Human Rights Awards in De La Salle University (DLSU) Manila.

“For over a week now my mobile phone has been buzzing with text messages written in screaming and capital letters telling me that I was next in line for execution,” David said through a letter read by his brother Randy.

“Well-meaning friends who are worried for my personal safety have advised me not to take this threat lightly. I am begging off from today’s event,” David added.

“What is paramount is I don’t want to endanger the lives of those who would accompany me to this venue.”

Read full article @newsinfo.inquirer.net

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[In the news] Duterte gov’t allows ‘drug war’ deaths to go unsolved -RAPPLER.com

Duterte gov’t allows ‘drug war’ deaths to go unsolved

The memory of the night Manny* was killed remains vivid in the mind of his mother Lita* one year later.

His lifeless body slumped on the ground with a pool of blood slowly spreading on the ground, turned the gray concrete darker in color.

It was 10 pm, a few minutes before the vegetables he was supposed to sell were due to arrive. But Manny did not live long enough for the next day’s marketing chores as a man shot him at close range, piercing bullets into his cheek and neck, killing him instantly.

Just like the perpetrators of several thousand other extrajudicial killings, the suspect was wearing a bonnet, rendering him unidentifiable to possible witnesses. It didn’t help that the act was committed at night and in a place where foot traffic is scarce after the sun sets.

Read full article @www.rappler.com

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[Statement] iDEFEND renews call for an end to the war on drugs, citing IDPC report

iDEFEND renews call for an end to the war on drugs, citing IDPC report

The International Drug Policy Consortium (IDPC) report on the global failure to address illegal drugs cited the gruesome results of drug wars waged around the world:

A 145 per cent increase in drug-related deaths over the last decade, totaling a harrowing 450,000 deaths per year in 2015.

At least 3,940 people executed for a drug offence over the last decade, with 33 jurisdictions retaining the death penalty for drug offences in violation of international standards.

Around 27,000 extrajudicial killings in drug crackdowns in the Philippines.

More than 71,000 overdose deaths in the United States in 2017 alone.

A global pain epidemic, resulting from restrictions in access to controlled medicines, which have left 75 per cent of the world’s population without proper access to pain relief.

Mass incarceration fuelled by the criminalization of people who use drugs – with 1 in 5 prisoners incarcerated for drug offences, mostly for possession for personal use.

In Defense of Human Rights and Dignity Movement (iDEFEND) agrees with IDPC that the decade-long UN Drug Policy has not been successful and even made situations worse. This is because most States have not pursued a policy anchored on a strategy that is evidence-based, integrated, balanced and sustainable.

Despite overwhelming evidence that unproductive and devastating hard-lined, prohibitionist, criminalization, supply reduction-centered and purely or largely law enforcement approach failed, most states obstinately continued to employ, and in many cases, even intensified its implementation which has only led to the ‘professionalization’ of the drug trade (made the drug trade more efficient), made substances more impure, potent and deadly, led to illicit drugs flooding the market, as has happened in the Philippines, where President Duterte said it has now become a multi-billion peso industry. Illegal drugs have further proliferated and become more accessible.

This ineffective path has had severe impacts and grave consequences on human beings and society, with human rights groups saying the Philippines has become a country of grieving and angry orphans. Systematic human rights violations such as extrajudicial killings are often perpetrated with enforced disappearances, torture and ill-treatment as well as mass incarceration of suspected drug offenders.

The 52nd session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs- Political Declaration and Plan of Action on International Cooperation towards an Integrated and Balanced Strategy to Counter the World Drug Problem and UNGASS 2016 already puts forward strategies which should have replaced the ‘War on Drugs’, and these are methods which have been proven to actually work based on good practice. This is the compassionate, evidence-based, integrated, balanced, human rights anchored and public health centered approach which have been proven effective in bringing down pervasive drug dependency and supply in various contexts around the world. At the heart of this strategy is decriminalizing drug dependency and shielding drug users and dependents from any harm/violence which the law enforcement side of the integrated policy may cause.

The Philippines is far from considering that approach. It remains the world’s ‘exhibit A’ on the failure of the ‘War on Drugs’ because of its consequences- how it has brutalized and dehumanized impoverished Filipinos, how it has made human life extremely cheap, how it gave rise to corruption and sexual exploitation, and its central role in the resurgence of dictatorship and the near-demise of democracy in the country.

Not only has the Duterte administration completely negated its international human rights obligations, it has done the complete opposite of undertaking its duties under the UN General Assembly Special Session on Drugs (UNGASS) 2016 outcome document by establishing a permission structure for mass murder which made the prohibitive and punitive Philippine drug policy much more violent and deadlier.

On February 2017, the former President of Colombia, in an OP-ED in the New York Times advised Duterte and others implementing the War on Drugs that the use of force will not solve the drug problem and that they should learn from Colombia’s experience. Similar caution has come from Thailand which has seen the killing of more than 3,000 drug suspects in early 2000. Negating these warnings as well as those from many others including local actors such as iDEFEND, the situation in the Philippines now mirrors the ramifications of the Colombia War on Drugs, and is nowhere near solving it.

President Duterte has shielded law enforcers from prosecution as proven by the very few cases being filed in courts. He has promised amnesty to any law enforcement agent who will be convicted of a crime in pursuance of the war on drugs, thus providing them a license to become more violent and predisposed to shortcuts, and the mobilization of death squads has raised the level of impunity to an unprecedented level. An environment in blatant disregard for the rule of law, and where due process is regularly circumvented has affected human security in the region, with Indonesia and Bangladesh considering a similar approach.

The consequences of the Philippines’ drug war are a multi-fold human rights calamity: the erosion of democratic institutions, the chipping away of the justice system, the damage to civic behaviour and collective sociopathy among Filipinos, the disintegration of human rights culture and the erosion of the sense of accountability of even the most decent and law abiding police officers, the rolling back of the human rights education work gains by human rights organizations and the Commission on Human Rights for the past 32 years. From this cornerstone policy emerged the worst vilification of human rights defenders and distortion of human rights principles.

As early as August 2016, iDEFEND proposed 3 main recommendations for the Duterte administration:

Abandon the hard-lined, violent and law-enforcement only approach and put into motion an evidence-based, integrated, balanced, human rights & public health centered response to the drug issue. This should include the decriminalization of drug dependency.

Radical reforms in the expensive, inoperable and anti-poor Criminal Justice System so that justice can flow here (with safeguards and checks and balances) instead of “the streets”.

Address the root cause by investing in a life of dignity for all and address the poverty inducing socio-economic system. This is with recognition of the premise that the root cause of drug use/dependency and crime prevalence is widespread abject poverty, that there is a direct relationship between the decrease of crime and drug dependency and the rise of a standard of living. In the Philippines, there is a huge market of beaten down, impoverished individuals predisposed to being exploited into a life of crime and drug dependency.

iDEFEND has been monitoring the Duterte government’s patterns of action for the past two years and can now confidently conclude empirically that the War on Drugs in the Philippines is a sham war. This War on Drugs is a Duterte tool to consolidate and advance the President’s authoritarian agenda. He has politically weaponized the drug war by doing sample ‘narco politician assassinations’ and judicial harassment of political opponents to beat the opposition and the entire bureaucracy into silence, submission and subservience/obedience.

iDEFEND hopes that the 62nd Session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs in March 2019 will be a venue for States to review the devastating consequences of allowing the global war on drugs to continue by subjecting the Philippine situation under its sharp lens.

iDEFEND supports the call of IDPC for a comprehensive overhaul of the global drug policy approach.

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Twitter: @idefendHR

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[From the web] Netflix’ Philippine ‘drug war’ propagandist -HRW

Netflix’ Philippine ‘drug war’ propagandist
By PHELIM KINE
Deputy Asia Director
Human Rights Watch

http://www.atimes.com/netflix-philippine-drug-war-propagandist/

The new Netflix drama series Amo, inspired by the Philippine government’s real-life “war on drugs,” presents a sinister revisionist take on an ongoing human-rights calamity.

Amo’s Filipino director, Brillante Mendoza, has described the 13-episode miniseries, which began streaming last month, as a “true” depiction of the problem of illegal drugs in the Philippines and how “the government has really got very tough about it.”

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But anyone familiar with President Rodrigo Duterte’s “drug war” will find little in Amo beyond corrupt police, which corresponds to the reality of the state-backed campaign of targeted killings that began in July 2016. The plot of Amo (which means “boss” in Tagalog) follows a teen drug mule caught up in a highly stylized Manila underworld populated by drug lords, sex workers, crooked cops and their hapless extended families.

Mendoza describes Amo as his attempt to “tell truthful stories” about Duterte’s anti-drug campaign. The series begins in gritty Manila back alleys, but quickly transitions to a milieu of upmarket nightclubs where well-heeled patrons are peddled Ecstasy alongside their cocktails. This is not the world of the real anti-drug campaign, which is characterized by summary executions by the police and their agents of urban slum dwellers, and to date has killed more than 12,000 people.

One of the most notably preposterous elements of Amo is that significant numbers of suspected drug users and dealers actually survive their encounters with the Philippine National Police, ending up under arrest and behind bars, awaiting justice. In the real Philippine drug war, suspected drug users and dealers typically end up as victims of often gruesome summary killings.

In Amo, the only unlawful killings by police are perpetrated by a small squad of corrupt cops whose sole victims are two foreign nationals suspected of illegal drug trafficking. Meanwhile their real-life police counterparts and their agents routinely summarily execute Filipino suspected drug users and dealers, plant drugs and weapons on the bodies and attribute those deaths to suspects who “fought back” during arrest.

The situation is so egregious that the International Criminal Court has begun a preliminary examination into the killings, and there is growing momentum inside the United Nations for a separate UN inquiry

The situation is so egregious that the International Criminal Court has begun a preliminary examination into the killings, and there is growing momentum inside the United Nations for a separate UN inquiry.

Numerous sequences in Amo appear to be deliberate efforts to reinforce the government’s counter-narrative to the anti-drug campaign’s scrupulously documented human-rights abuses. Police officers tell people whose names appear on barangay (neighborhood) drug watch lists that “If you’re not guilty of anything, your name will be cleared.”

But the reality left out of the series – which Human Rights Watch has documented – is that many such people end up victims of police killings.

In another scene, a police officer expresses concern about media’s and human-rights organizations’ scrutiny of the drug war; instead the Duterte government and the police have sought to harass, intimidate and impugn any agencies or individuals who demand accountability for the “drug war” slaughter.

Other sequences echo the Duterte government’s reaction to international criticism of the drug war as a smear campaign that is “deliberately misrepresenting” the scale of the killings to create an “unfair and unjust image” of the Philippines.

In one scene, a teen drug gang kills a suspected police informer and then pins a cardboard sign to his body that reads “I am a drug addict. Learn from me.” There have in fact been hundreds of instances in which the corpses of suspected drug users and dealers, riddled with bullets and stab wounds, were found with cardboard signs with similar messages attached to their bodies. Mendoza’s depiction of that outrage echoes government claims that such killings were committed by shadowy “vigilantes” with no connection to the police.

Mendoza has dismissed accusations that Amo makes him a willing propagandist for Duterte, for whom he has expressed admiration, by stating “I don’t care about politics.” Netflix likewise has sidestepped the political slant of Amo by billing it as a “bold and suspenseful show that has the potential of capturing thrill-seeking audiences worldwide.”

And Netflix certainly need not ensure that the fictional series on its platform are factually or historically accurate. But given the global interest in this issue – Reuters just won a Pulitzer Prize for its coverage of the Philippine drug war – it would be an invaluable public service if Netflix offered its subscribers a fact-based documentary. Viewers might find the truth a bit more enlightening – and disturbing – than the fiction.

Phelim Kine
Phelim Kine is a deputy director in Human Rights Watch’s Asia Division. Kine worked as a journalist for more than a decade in mainland China, Indonesia, Cambodia and Taiwan prior to joining Human Rights Watch in April 2007. He has written extensively on human rights issues including military impunity, extrajudicial killings, transitional justice, religious intolerance and discrimination against LGBT people. Kine is an adjunct professor at New York’s Hunter College in the Roosevelt House Human Rights Program.

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[Statement] Ending the War on Drugs Saves Lives -iDEFEND

Ending the War on Drugs Saves Lives

Foreign Secretary Alan Cayetano on Tuesday told the UN Human Rights Council that the deadly war on drugs was meant to save Filipino lives from the scourge of illegal drugs. He thinks the world is hearing this for the first time. But the same argument was also used by a dictator forty years ago, except at that time, it was to save the country from “communists”.

Cayetano’s feigned alarm about the Philippines turning into a narco-state started with 1.8 million drug users according to the Dangerous Drugs Board (2015), then increased to 4 million within President Duterte’s first year in office; new players have joined the illegal drugs trade in Cebu [1]; drug trade by the Muntinlupa prison drug lords have resumed [2]; the president’s son has been linked to a new shipment of P6.4 billion worth of shabu; and the drug related charges against an opposition Senator who is in prison have been downgraded for lack of evidence. [3]

What has the drug war solved? What was accomplished apart from the extrajudicial killing of thousands of poor Filipinos, a good many among them innocent children, substitute hits, and mistaken identities?

President Duterte kept moving the deadline of his triumph over illegal drugs, only to admit in 2017 that he cannot do so [4] in the six year term he is given. Thus exposed is the real agenda of the Duterte Presidency and its necessary brutal campaign of terror and annihilation of our democratic institutions and processes. The war on drugs does not save the lives of Filipinos; it ushers in Duterte’s authoritarian ambitions over a terrorized population.

As Cayetano continues to defend the drug war, crimes against humanity becomes even more officially sanctioned by the state. These pronouncements are crucial evidence for possible future litigation against him and the President: a global indictment that we hope would come sooner than later in order to force an end to this failed war on drugs–for that would certainly save lives.

____________________________________________________

[1] http://www.sunstar.com.ph/cebu/local-news/2016/09/23/new-players-trick-trade-499359

[2] https://www.philstar.com/metro/2018/01/01/1773507/shabu-shipment-linked-bilibid-drug-lord-pdea

[3] http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/939259/de-lima-says-prosecution-plan-to-amend-charges-a-sign-of-weak-case-de-lima-detention-evidence-court-case-drugs

[4] https://www.rt.com/news/399407-duterte-failure-drug-war-philippines/

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Facebook: @iDEFENDofficial
Twitter: @idefendHR

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[From the web] International Criminal Court (ICC) to open preliminary examination of the situation in the Philippines

International Criminal Court (ICC) to open preliminary examination of the situation in the Philippines

Statement of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Mrs Fatou Bensouda, on opening Preliminary Examinations into the situations in the Philippines and in Venezuela

Following a careful, independent and impartial review of a number of communications and reports documenting alleged crimes potentially falling within the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court (“ICC” or “the Court”), I have decided to open a preliminary examination into each situation.

The preliminary examination of the situation in the Philippines will analyse crimes allegedly committed in this State Party since at least 1 July 2016, in the context of the “war on drugs” campaign launched by the Government of the Philippines. Specifically, it has been alleged that since 1 July 2016, thousands of persons have been killed for reasons related to their alleged involvement in illegal drug use or dealing. While some of such killings have reportedly occurred in the context of clashes between or within gangs, it is alleged that many of the reported incidents involved extra-judicial killings in the course of police anti-drug operations.

The preliminary examination of the situation in Venezuela will analyse crimes allegedly committed in this State Party since at least April 2017, in the context of demonstrations and related political unrest. In particular, it has been alleged that State security forces frequently used excessive force to disperse and put down demonstrations, and arrested and detained thousands of actual or perceived members of the opposition, a number of whom would have been allegedly subjected to serious abuse and ill-treatment in detention. It has also been reported that some groups of protestors resorted to violent means, resulting in some members of security forces being injured or killed.

Under the Rome Statute, national jurisdictions have the primary responsibility to investigate and prosecute those responsible for international crimes. I emphasise that a preliminary examination is not an investigation but a process of examining the information available in order to reach a fully informed determination on whether there is a reasonable basis to proceed with an investigation pursuant to the criteria established by the Rome Statute. Specifically, under article 53(1) of the Rome Statute, I, as Prosecutor, must consider issues of jurisdiction, admissibility and the interests of justice in making this determination.

Read full article @www.icc-cpi.int

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