ANDANAR tells human rights watchdogs to uphold the highest level of integrity and credibility to maintain their relevance
The Duterte administration has prioritized human rights and dignity of all Filipinos in the time of the pandemic, Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Martin Andanar said Wednesday, denying a report which claimed that killings in the country worsened during… Read More
KABACAN, North Cotabato – The North Cotabato Police Provincial Office (NCPPO) has formed a special investigation unit to look into the killing of nine persons at a secluded section of Barangay Poblacion here on Saturday.Killed on the spot in the 12:30 p.m. shooting incident along Aringay Road… Read More
HRW WORLD REPORT 2020: Duterte’s anti-drug campaign remains as brutal as when it started
The Philippine government’s murderous “war on drugs” remained the Philippines’ gravest human rights concern in 2019, Human Rights Watch said in its World Report 2020. Security forces were also implicated in often deadly attacks on activists.
“President Duterte’s anti-drug campaign remains as brutal as when it started, with drug suspects being killed regularly across the country,” said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director. “Four years into the ‘drug war,’ the need for international mechanisms to provide accountability is as great as ever.”
In the 652-page World Report 2020, its 30th edition, Human Rights Watch reviews human rights practices in nearly 100 countries. In his introductory essay, Executive Director Kenneth Roth says that the Chinese government, which depends on repression to stay in power, is carrying out the most intense attack on the global human rights system in decades. He finds that Beijing’s actions both encourage and gain support from autocratic populists around the globe, while Chinese authorities use their economic clout to deter criticism from other governments. It is urgent to resist this assault, which threatens decades of progress on human rights and our future.
Duterte’s appointment in November of Vice President Leni Robredo as co-chair of the Inter-Agency Committee Against Drugs (ICAD) raised hopes that drug campaign violence would be tempered. But Duterte fired Robredo, an opponent of the anti-drug campaign, just days later.
In July, the Philippine National Police reported that its forces had killed more than 5,500 people during drug raids. Local rights groups as well as the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights contend that the number could be more than 27,000. Except for three police officers involved in a highly publicized killing in August 2017, no one has been convicted in any “drug war” killings. Duterte continued to defend the drug war and promised to protect law enforcement officers who killed drug suspects in these raids.
In December 2019, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency reported that its forces had killed 5,552 people during drug raids from July 1, 2016 to November 30, 2019. The International Criminal Court (ICC) had yet to conclude its preliminary examination into “drug war” killings, which it began in February 2018. A UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) resolution on the Philippines adopted in July 2019 directs the UN human rights office to issue a report in June 2020.
There was an upsurge in 2019 in often deadly attacks against left-wing activists, including peasant leaders, environmentalists, tribal leaders, and religious figures who were deemed to be linked to the communist New People’s Army (NPA). Violence was particularly high on the island of Negros, where alleged state security forces killed peasants, their leaders, environmentalists, religious leaders, and their community supporters.
Left-wing, politically active groups faced police raids that resulted in arbitrary arrests and detention. Groups alleged that police planted weapons and other “evidence” to justify the raids and arrests. The government and military frequently labeled these groups and individuals as communist rebels or sympathizers, a practice commonly known as “red tagging.” Some journalists also faced similar political attacks.
As with the anti-drug campaign, the Duterte administration has done little to investigate and prosecute those responsible for politically motivated attacks against activists. Duterte has instead seemingly encouraged such attacks, for instance, in August calling on the military to “implement a more severe measure” against the insurgency.
“There are sadly no signs that President Duterte is going to end ‘drug war’ killings or act to stop attacks on activists,” Robertson said. “That makes it all the more important for international institutions like the International Criminal Court and the UN Human Rights Council to do what they can to hold Duterte and other senior officials to account for their abuses.”
Malacañang earlier said Garcia-Sayan has been misinformed when he reportedly said judicial independence in the Philippines is under threat.
“We find it unfortunate that Mr. Diego Garcia-Sayan has been misinformed on the case surrounding the former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the Philippines,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a press statement.
Roque reiterated that President Rodrigo Duterte’s “dislike” of former chief justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno is not an attack on the judiciary or an affront to judicial independence.
“It is a reaction to the allegations made by former CJ Sereno against the Chief Executive in many public fora saying the latter is behind her impeachment/quo warranto petition,” he said.
He said Malacañang recognizes the SC’s independence and respects the separation of powers among the three branches of government. (PNA)
Are there gun-for-hire groups operating in Davao City?
Vice Mayor Rodrigo Duterte thinks so and has warned residents against the gunmen he said were behind the series of killings in the city.
He said people should be wary about the groups and report immediately to police those who offer them hit jobs for a fee.
Gun-for-hire syndicates are usually involved in extortion and liquidation jobs in land disputes, he said in a late night press conference here on Wednesday in Davao City.
“This has to stop, otherwise, we will have a very dangerous situation,” he said adding police have already identified some of the gunmen.
He said the syndicates are not all from Davao City but from neighboring provinces.
He said revenge is also a motive in some of the killings carried out by the gun-for-hire syndicates.
Duterte said the murder of Barangay Lacson chief Aldion Layao, a former radio broadcaster, could be the work of one of the gun-for-hire groups.
He denied reports that Layao’s death could be politically related. Layao is a known supporter of Duterte’s political rival, former House Speaker Prospero Nograles.
LAYAO, OLANOLAN: Target of gun-for-hire groups
He also said Layao’s death could not be linked to his media work as he had long left the profession. Layao won as barangay captain of Lacson in the 2010 elections.
Duterte said Barangay 76-A village chief Robert Olanolan also has been receiving death threats lately. Olanolan is a former political ally of Nograles who has joined the camp of Duterte.
The clamor is not acceptable, not by the Commission on Human Rights and the Human Rights watch.
This was the terse answer given by the Vice Mayor Rodrigo Duterte during his weekly cable television show, Ato ni Bay when he was asked if he would allow the return of extrajudicial killings in the city.
Duterte, who many times in the past, had been suspected to have connections with the Davao Death Squad, also said he also would not want the human rights groups to put the blame on him again if criminals would start to get killed in the city.
“I do not encourage vigilante killings… but I can only encourage them to follow the law and I cannot prohibit vigilante killings because I am not in command anymore, in fact when I talk my voice is just as ordinary as anybody’s,” the Vice Mayor said.
Human rights groups said the extrajudicial killings in the city were state-sponsored and even insisted the local police were connected to the killings.
“Because of the numerous killings in the city of late, let me just assure that the police and military are doing everything humanly possible to prevent these things from happening again or maybe catch up with the perpetrators,” Duterte said.
The DDS, as the death squad was famously known, has been in considered to be in hiatus, but many sectors and individuals have lately urged for its return.
The public sentiment is expressed radio and television surveys and even in social networking sites.
Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte said she would not be surprised if vigilantes will return to the city because of the sudden rise in robberies and killings.
Vice Mayor Duterte, who has been cited many times for bringing back and maintaining peace and order to a once-chaotic Davao City, has met with the station commanders of the Davao City Police Office and gave them strict orders to solve the crimes under their different areas of responsibility or face sanctions.
In addition to this, Duterte warned criminals anew, saying that if they will insist on doing what they are doing, the city will once again become a very dangerous place for them.
“I cannot stop the relatives of these victims to exact revenge, because I myself would do just that and I would not care about any human rights group…you cannot stop me if they touch my family,” he said.
A similar statement he made when he was still mayor in 2009 earned him the spotlight and was called to a series of hearings conducted by then Department of Justice Secretary Leila De Lima.
Today, many are of the opinion that the hearings were politically motivated and were a ruse to advance the plans of a political adversary who eventually lost.
In local radio and television programs, informal call-in show strong demand of people for the return of extrajudicial justice courtesy of the DDS.
The public outcry came after motorcycle-riding gunmen killed a 23-year old nurse, Marjorie Kwan, in broad daylight on Fberuary 18.
Before that, a 13-year old child was found dead last week with 14 stab wounds. Over the weekend, cars of churchgoers were ransacked and homes were robbed.
In different radio programs, 200 to 300 callers are in favor of the DDS returning. And in a local television news program, a survey question, which asked what solution would solve the current spate of crime in the city, 593 voted for the return of the Davao Death Squad and only 67, voted for the augmentation of the local police force.