The International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines views with grave concern the current drug-related killings which has claimed close to 4,000 lives in the past four months.
President Rodrigo Duterte’s “war on drugs” has identified local drug lords and “narco-politicans” together with their police protectors as promoters of illicit drugs. He has also started to forge agreements with Southeast Asian neighbors to crack down on cross-border drug-trafficking.
We recognize Duterte’s commitment to stamp out drugs in the country. Drug-crazed crimes have risen in the past years and drug abuse is ruining the lives of the working people and the youth. The illicit drug most widely manufactured and distributed is methamphetamine or shabu also known as “poor man’s cocaine”. High society and the rich use more exotic cocktails of drugs.
However, most of the victims are lowly addicts, gunned down under the pretext of having resisted arrest or being armed and dangerous. The rules of engagement during shootouts almost always favor the police version of incidents. It is not unreasonable to doubt that many of the killings are “rub-out operations” aimed at eliminating evidence of the involvement of military, police and government officials in the drug trade.
The ICHRP condemns police brutality in the arrests and killings. Arbitrary murder is a human rights abuse, and the Philippines government must take action to stop this aspect of the anti-drugs campaign.
We insist that the big-time drug lords, foreign and local financiers, and their protectors should be arrested, tried and punished to the fullest extent. Drug peddlers and lowly users should be rehabilitated to become productive members of society.
Illicit drug-use comes from the deepening poverty and suffering of the Filipino people. Its trade is exploited for quick profits by police-protected criminal syndicates. Politics and even international relations have been tainted by it, with the United States, the European Union and the United Nations joining the fray.
Addressing the social, economic and political ills of society is the only way to stamp out narcotics and the drug problem. Summary killings would only add to the suffering of the people.
Chairperson, Global Council, ICHRP
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