War on drugs
LATEST UPDATE: July 12, 2019 - 8:12am
LOCATION:
PHILIPPINES
UNITED STATES
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3 days ago

STATEMENT OF PHILIPPINE FOREIGN AFFAIRS SECRETARY TEODORO L. LOCSIN, JR. ON THE ADOPTION OF THE ICELAND RESOLUTION BY THE HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL

In 1945, the Philippines, along with 50 other states, founded the United Nations. We were not yet independent.  But the Filipino people – for having taken in the wretched of the earth – won its place at the Creation of the United Nations.

We helped create the UN to honor the universal values of respect for sovereignty and non-interference in the internal affairs of state which were brazenly and brutally violated on a global scale by those who censured us today. There is too the value of dialogue which is violated by the high-handed insistence that it be one sided while the other side keeps quiet, the latter to speak in its defense but only in proceedings dictated by the former to ensure its agreeable result. 

In the process leading to the adoption of this resolution, we have witnessed the very opposite of these values that hold the UN together. We have seen its mandate “weaponized” for the sake of interests with the evident means to get it done.

This resolution was not universally adopted. Therefore, its validity is highly questionable.  It does not represent the will of the Council, much less that of the developing countries who are always the target of such resolutions. Western countries pushed for this resolution in the confidence that the world has forgotten what they did and what should have been done to them had there been a Human Rights Council. It was pushed with the arrogance that developing countries must not stand up to them even if we can and as we hereby do. There will be consequences.

They sought to bring a people and a country, with an unblemished human rights record, down to the level of the authors of atrocities the world must not forget:  of Amritsar, Mau Mau and the Boer War; Ragawede and the murder of Anne Frank and her kind; the trendsetting holocaust of the Congo; the profiling of Romani people; the massacre of aborigines at Forrest River; the culmination of Leopold’s Ghost in Bergen-Belsen to name one of a sprawling network of extermination camps; slave trading in the West Indies and the abduction of Inuit children as part of the eradication of that race’s way of life; Addis Ababa and the invention of death from above (though that distinction is shared with the author of Amritsar); Setif and the drowning of North Africans in the river Seine; the cowardice of European UN peacekeepers who stepped aside to allow the massacre of those they had herded together for their safety; the dissolution and consequent anarchy of North African and Middle Eastern countries, and the revival of the slave trade from there; and the callous expulsion of refugees crossing the Mediterranean to escape the European miscalculation.

But we will not engage in throwing at each other the bodies of each side’s respective victims. We cannot compete with the West.

The Philippines is affronted that we should be named with the very breath of these authors of these atrocities, the same ones so bold to condemn us – we who opened our arms to save their victims before the War, and well into the savage wars of peace culminating in the Vietnam War to whose victims we gave shelter when everyone else turned them away.

But let us be clear on this: this resolution is not a triumph of human rights but a travesty of them that should honor the character of the author and co-sponsors of the resolution. 

It is an example of how these countries – they who are least entitled to make such accusations, incited by false information from sources peddling their untruths for money, or who have allowed themselves to be played by the ill will of a few – have undermined the Human Rights Council to advance their agenda and target a government that’s hostile to the very things they have done and continue to do, and about which there is overwhelming proof.

This resolution flies in the face of everything the Philippines has worked for when it founded the Human Rights Council in 2006, and when it advanced the work towards realizing a Universal Declaration of Human Rights in the 1940s, insisting on strong commitments for justice, dignity and conscience, and the rights of women — a concept almost unheard of then.

The responsibility to protect starts with protecting the good against the bad, the innocent against the vicious.  We invoke the government’s great power – and therefore commensurate responsibility – to protect human rights as multilateral bodies cannot. Foremost among those rights is the right to be protected from crime by the state.  

Do not presume to threaten states with accountability for a tough approach to crushing crime, at which some of your countries are complicit at worst and tolerant at best. You don’t have the wherewithal, so all you can do is insult. The United Nations is a collection of sovereignties and not a sovereign collective. 

Thus, the Philippines rejects this resolution.  It cannot, in good conscience, abide by it. We will not accept a politically partisan and one-sided resolution, so detached from the truth on the ground. It comes straight from the mouth of the Queen in Alice in Wonderland, “First the judgment, then the proof.”

The temptation is strong to walk away from all this with well-deserved contempt for the minority of countries that have the least moral standing to raise their false issues to the discredit of the Human Rights Council.  But the Philippines must remain true to the cause of human rights.   We will continue to work in the Council to advance a noble mandate to respect, protect and fulfill human rights, and rescue it from its misuse.

The Philippines renews its solemn responsibility to protect the law-abiding against the lawless by any means efficient to achieve the defining purpose for the existence and expense of a state. To that responsibility, my President has made an iron, unwavering and total commitment; and it will not be weakened by this ill-fated resolution.

Our foreign policy was summed up as being “Friend to all, enemy to none.” In the face of today’s changing realities, I refined this to “Friend to friends, enemy to enemies, and a worse enemy to false friends.”  We renew our solidarity with our true friends who have stood by us in this farce.  But we will not tolerate any form of disrespect or acts of bad faith. There will be consequences; far-reaching ones. 

July 10, 2019

New York City-based Human Rights Watch says Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. is spreading "disinformation and lies" by implying in a tweet that drug cartels are behind calls for UN Human Rights Council scrutiny of killings in the government's "war on drugs." 

"This is an outrageous and malicious statement by the Philippines’ top diplomat. It shows the desperation of the Philippine government to frustrate accountability for its atrocious 'drug war'," HRW also says.

"Sowing lies and disinformation is part of the government’s aggressive and deceitful campaign to avoid being scrutinized for the human rights violations in the Philippines," HRW also says.

July 8, 2019

In its second report on the crackdown since 2016, Amnesty International said targets, mostly poor people, are largely drawn from "drug watch lists".

Those names are supplied by local officials who are "under immense pressure" from police to provide a steady stream of suspects, the London-based monitor said.

"Worse still, individuals on watch lists appear to be placed on them indefinitely, with no means of getting delisted, even after they have gone through drug treatment or stopped using drugs," said the report.

Amnesty said it was impossible to determine how many people have been killed in the campaign, accusing Manila of "deliberate obfuscation and misinformation" that has left victims' kin feeling helpless.

The government's official toll is just over 5,300 suspects killed by police, but watchdogs say the true number is quadruple that.

"What we believe is most important, in assessing the current situation, is the systematic nature of the violations," Amnesty's East Asia director Nicholas Bequelin told AFP.

Amnesty said the press has lost interest in the killings while the government fails to investigate or provide adequate treatment programmes for drug users. — Agence France-Presse

July 8, 2019

Amnesty International Philippines, at the release of its latest report, says extrajudicial killings are still happening in the context of the government's "war on drugs."

AI Philippines Section Director Butch Olano says the report, conducted in April and May, focuses on Bulacan province, which he refers to as "the bloodiest killing field."

"Parang normal na na tanggapin na ang mga pobre o mga mahihirap ang mga biktima ng war on drugs," he also says.

(It is almost normal to accept that the poor are the victims of the 'war on drugs')

Nicholas Bequelin, regional director of AI's East and Southeast Asia regional office, says at the same press conference that "families of victims, lawyers, clearly told us that they have no faith in the judicial system to deliver justice and to investigate the killings and to hold the perpetrators accountable."

July 4, 2019

The Philippines burned 1.4 tons of seized narcotics on Thursday as police warned the nation still faces a "flood" of illegal drugs despite President Rodrigo Duterte's deadly crackdown.

Cellophane wrapped bricks of cocaine and methamphetamine were packed into a massive incinerator in Trece Martires City under armed guard in a carefully staged event before TV cameras.

Police said they are now targeting higher-level traffickers despite an anti-drug crackdown that has officially killed over 5,300 alleged users and dealers - a number rights groups say could be three times higher. 

"We have shifted to supply reduction because the flood of illegal drugs continues despite our intensified campaign... on the street level," national police spokesman Bernard Banac told reporters.

Despite a campaign pledge to rid the nation of drugs within months of taking office in 2016, in March Duterte said "things have worsened."

Campaigners say the drug war killings could amount to crimes against humanity.

Though the Philippines has pulled out of the International Criminal Court, the war crimes body is pushing ahead with a preliminary examination of the crackdown.

Police said the cache burned Thursday accounted for just over a fifth of all dangerous drugs seized by police in the past three years.

"All of the drugs seized... will be burned and will not be recycled," said Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency chief Aaron Aquino, referring to the practice whereby corrupt police sell seized narcotics. -- Agence France-Presse

June 30, 2019

Sen. Leila De Lima, detained on drug-related charges that she says are politically motivated, says the Department of Foreign Affairs should invite 11 UN special rapporteurs calling for a probe into alleged extrajudicial killings in the Philippines to visit the country.

The DFA as well as the Palace have rejected the call made by the UN experts for the UN Human Rights Council to look into the supposed EJKs that critics link to the government's "war on drugs," saying the call was made in bad faith and was based on false claims by the political opposition.

Michelle Bachelet, UN high commissioner for human rights, has said “even the officially confirmed number of 5,425 deaths would be a matter of most serious concern for any country.”

She also welcomed the call made by the 11 special rapporteurs as she called for transparency into the deaths, saying "these could dispel any false allegations and help regain trust for the authorities.”

De Lima on Sunday says: "If this administration really thinks it has done nothing wrong, I challenge the Department of Foreign Affairs to extend formal invitation to the UN special rapporteurs so that they can find out for themselves the real situation here."

June 28, 2019

The United Nations Human Rights Council, whose 41st session began on June 24, should adopt the resolution initiated by Iceland that asks the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to report on the Philippines' brutal war on drugs and human rights crisis, Human Rights Watch says in a statement today as it releases a web feature on the crackdown that has devastated the lives of countless children, .

The web feature titled "Collateral Damage: The Children of Duterte's 'War on Drugs,'" shares stories on "the plight of several children who have suffered from the emotional, psychological, and economic impacts of the 'drug war' violence."

"The administration of President Rodrigo Duterte should not only end the violence but provide the necessary services to mitigate the damage that abuses by the police and police-backed vigilantes have caused children who have lost parents and other family members, or witnessed extrajudicial killings," HRW says.

June 24, 2019

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet is following the human rights situation in the Philippines closely, she says at the 41st session of the Human Rights Council.

In her opening statement to the council, she notes that "the extraordinarily high number of deaths" in the government's campaign against illegal drugs—6,600 "drug personalities" in anti-drug operations as of May according to government data—has been rising.

"Even the officially confirmed number of 5,425 deaths would be a matter of most serious concern for any country," Bachelet says.

"Human rights defenders, including activists for land rights and the rights of indigenous peoples; journalists; lawyers; members of the Catholic clergy; and others who have spoken out – notably the special rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples – have received threats, sometimes publicly, from senior government officials," she also says.

Bachelet says the reported threats "[create] a very real risk of violence against them, and undermines rule of law, as well as the right to freedom of expression.

Earlier this month, 11 special rapporteurs urged the UN Human Rights Council to look into the "staggering number of unlawful deaths and police killings in the context of the so-called war on drugs, as well as killings of human rights."

The Philippines rejected the call, with the Department of Foreign Affairs saying it was made "in bad faith by parties who want to undermine domestic processes and spread disinformation, on the basis of one-sided reports coming from questionable sources."

May 24, 2019

The Concerned Artists of the Philippines says it finds the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency's banning of Shanti Dope's song "Amatz" ridiculous. 

The PDEA "has the gall—and the time and resources—to ask the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB), the OPM - Organisasyon ng mga Pilipinong Mang-Aawit (OPM), and ABS-CBN Corporation to halt the distribution of the song 'Amatz' by our fellow musician Shanti Dope."

"The song in question, released two months ago, is open to interpretation. Its lyrics actually open the conversation on drug use: 'Amat, dapat ka nga ba dinadama? / Dapat ka nga ba minamata?' Within the span of the song, it raises a debate of synthetic drugs vs natural drugs, or should one even do drugs at all?"

"We warn the PDEA: Leave the cultural commentary to the musicians, the fans, and the public at large. Instead, focus on your mandate to jail the big druglords who still roam free. No less than President Rodrigo Duterte and the Philippine National Police admitted in recent statements that the country’s drug problem has 'worsened.' Why is the agency wasting the taxpayer’s money picking on a rap song, instead of reeling in the big fish?"

May 1, 2019

Filipino photojournalist Eloisa Lopez wins the 2019 Anja Niedringhaus Courage in Photojournalism Award for her coverage of President Duterte's drug war. 

 

 

— with The STAR/Iris Gonzales

April 28, 2019

The Palace slams the Board of Supervisors of the City and County of San Francisco in California for adopting a resolution in support of US House Resolution No. 233 condeming the government's "war on drugs" and the continued detention of Sen. Leila De Lima.

The board resolution also urges "San Francisco's Federal representatives to support a congressional hearing on the consequences of U.S. tax dollars being used to fund these activities, and advocating for the US to cut aid to the Duterte regime." 

Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo says in a statement that "like some US senators, the SF Supervisors have either developed an amnesia or have not outgrown their colonial mentality. They should be shaken from their stupor and wake up to the fact that the Philippines had long ceased to be a colony of the US and will never be a vassal to it."

March 5, 2019

Sen. Nancy Binay cautions against the planned release of the government's so-called "narco list" of candidates allegedly involved in illegal drugs, saying it could be used to shame and discredit bets.

"Ang sabi nila ilalabas ang listahan para gabayan ang mga botante, pero paano kung hindi naman verified ang listahan?" Binay says in a press release.

"Hinihimok ko ang [Department of the Interior and Local Government] at [Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency] na magfile agad-agad ng kaso laban sa mga ‘narco politicians’ kung sigurado sila sa impormasyon ng listahan nila."

Binay also reminds the DILG and other government agencies to be careful in validating and vetting the list.

March 5, 2019

Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo tries to further justify the government's release of the "narco-list," or the list of politicians allegedly involved in the illegal drug trade but are not yet facing charges.

He invokes people's right to information and public interest despite criticisms that the move was a Palace-led shame campaign during campaign period.

"The public and the voters have the right to know who these destroyers of society are who have placed all of us to the brink," he says, according to reports by The STAR's Christina Mendez. "They cannot and must not be given the authority to rule and govern for they will only hasten the destruction of our country."

Despite this, Panelo does not provide proof that the personalities are being prosecuted.

March 4, 2019

Authorities seized up to P14 million worth of party drugs in a buy-bust operation at a condominium in Loyola Heights, Quezon City.

The illegal drugs were recovered from a woman in a joint operation between the National Capital Region Police Office, Quezon City Police District and Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, radio dzMM reported.

Authorities seized illegal drugs such as ecstacy tablets, liquid ecstasy and high-grade marijuana or kush.

February 16, 2019

According to the fourth quarter survey of the Social Weather Stations, a majority of Filipinos (66 percent) said that the number of drug addicts in their area has decreased over the past year.

Taken from December 16 to 19, 2018, the poll found 14 percent of adult Filipinos saying that the number of drug addicts has increased while 7 percent say it has remained the same.

The same survey also showed that 95 percent of Filipinos said it is important that drug suspects be captured alive. 

December 6, 2018

The Commission on Human Rights expresses dismay over President Rodrigo Duterte's remark on implementing a harsher drug campaign.

"It is unfortunate that, as we celebrate the National Human Rights Consciousness Week and the 70th year of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, which is founded on freedom, justice, and peace, the country is being confronted with the threat of a harsher, more violent drug campaign in the face of unresolved deaths, as well as other forms of human rights violations, allegedly linked to it," CHR spokesperson Jacqueline de Guia says.

" We urge the government to uphold the rule of law and respect human rights, as part of its sworn obligation to all Filipinos."

November 8, 2018

A new Social Weather Stations poll finds that 51 percent of Filipinos agree with the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency's proposal for mandatory drug testing of students Grades 4 and up.

On the other hand, 36 percent disagree while 13 percent are undecided.

This yields a net agreement of +15, which SWS classifies as moderately strong.

In June this year, PDEA announced that it wants mandatory drug tests for teachers and students from Grades 4 and above. It dropped the plan a month later after a meeting with Department of Education officials, who said elementary students should not be subjected to mandatory drug testing.

DepEd chief Briones argued that drug testing should only be limited to secondary and tertiary students as mandated by the anti-illegal drugs law. 

The SWS survey was conducted from Sept. 15-23, 2018 using face-to-face interviews of 1,500 adults nationwide: 600 in Balance Luzon, and 300 each in Metro Manila, Visayas, and Mindanao. The poll has sampling error margins of ±3 percent for national percentages, and ±6 percent each for Metro Manila, Balance Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao.

November 6, 2018

Human Rights Watch urges the Philippine government to create an independent commission which will investigate the role of police officers in the killings of drug suspects.

The human rights watchdog made the statement after Chief Superintendent Debold Dinas, chief of the Philippine National Police for the Central Visayas region, stated in an interview on Oct. 31, 2018, that some of the hitmen responsible for these killings were "most likely… retired military or police officers or there are active police officers."

He made the admission following a series of killings in Cebu City and elsewhere in the central Philippines that bore similarities to the "drug war" murders that began after President Rodrigo Duterte took office in July 2016.

"The admission by a senior police official that police officers are working as hitmen for drug syndicates is yet more evidence of Philippine government complicity in 'drug war' killings," Brad Adams, HRW's Asia director. "Given the total failure of the police to stop these abuses, it’s clear that any serious investigation of the police role in the war on drugs needs full independence."

November 2, 2018

Sen. Kiko Pangilinan urges the public to remember those who have disappeared, were tortured and killed, victims of extrajudicial killings and fatalities in natural calamities as the nation prays for departed family and friends on All Souls' Day.

His message was released on Thursday, November 1.

"Let us remember them with our fervent prayers for justice that their loved ones seek, so that they may attain peace."

"Let this commemoration be also a commitment that we will carry on the task in making this world a better place for our children."

September 23, 2018

Satisfaction of Filipinos with President Rodrigo Duterte's drug war remains at very good with a net rating of +65 (78% satisfied and 13% dissatisfied), the latest SWS poll shows

This is 1 point above the very good +64 (75% satisfied, 12% dissatisfied) in March 2018. The survey was conducted from June 27-30, 2018 using face-to-face interviews of 1,200 adults nationwide.

Satisfaction with the administration’s campaign against illegal drugs was at an excellent +76 when it was first surveyed in September 2016. It was highest in December 2017 at an excellent +77.

However, it has been at the +63 to +66 (very good) range since March 2017, reaching its lowest rating of +63 in September 2017.

August 5, 2018

A radio report says a retired police officer included on the drug list was shot dead in Malate, Manila this afternoon.

Manila Police District spokesperson Superintendent Carlo Magno tells dzBB that retired Police Superintendent Roberto Palisoc, among the named police officers involved in illegal drugs by President Rodrigo Duterte, was dead-on-arrival after gunshots by an unknown assailant on the corner of Angel Linao and San Andres Streets in Malate.

Magno says initial reports showed that Palisoc sustained gunshot wounds on his back that caused his demise.

June 8, 2018

The Human Rights Watch calls out the Duterte government over the promotion of police officials who, it says, oversaw units implicated in extrajudicial killings linked to President Rodrigo Duterte’s bloody war on drugs. 

"The high-level promotions of two senior police officers who oversaw one of the drug war’s bloodiest locales are a cruel affront to the families of victims. They underscore the importance of an International Criminal Court preliminary examination into the killings and the need for a parallel United Nations investigation to ensure accountability for those deaths," HRW says.

Former Caloocan City police chief Senior Superintendent Chito Bersaluna, who was sacked after the slay of teen Kian delos Santos by cops, confirmed on Tuesday that on May 9 he had been promoted to police chief of Bulacan. The previous day, Chief Superintendent Roberto Fajardo, who had been the chief of the Northern Police District, which includes Caloocan City, assumed his new role as chief of the PNP Highway Patrol Group.

"Caloocan City is part of Metro Manila’s Camanava district, which many consider “ground zero” of the “drug war” in the capital. So many people have been killed there that in September 2017 then-Metro Manila police chief Oscar Albayalde sacked the entire Caloocan police force – a first. President Duterte suggested that many Caloocan officers were involved in the drug trade," HRW says.

June 1, 2018

The Human Rights Watch calls out the South Korean government over its donation of 49 Hyundai Elantras and 81 Starex vans to the Philippine National Police, saying the action neglects human rights abuses by cops, whose victims include South Korean businessman Jee Ick- joo.

READ: Bato cites killing of Jee Ick-joo, drug war probes as lowest points in his stint as PNP chief

South Korean Ambassador Han Dong-man described the donated vehicles as "a form of gratitude for the heroism of more than 7,000 Filipino soldiers during the Korean war in 1950." He added that their purpose is to "help maintain peace and order in Metro Manila."

"As a Manila resident, Ambassador Han should know better," HRW says, adding that the South Korean ambassador's comments disregards that Jee was a victim of the "Tokhang-for-ransom" scheme of uniformed men and that prosecution of his alleged killers has stalled.

"Assistance to the Philippines should benefit the anti-drug campaign’s thousands of victims and their families, not those responsible for the abuses," it says.

May 30, 2018

Human Rights Watch says President Rodrigo Duterte's latest threat of summary execution of drug suspects should send a message to the International Criminal Court and the United Nations of the "dire need" for an inquiry into the killings.

"Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has issued a fresh reminder as to why his murderous 'drug war' has earned United Nations and International Criminal Court scrutiny," it says.

Duterte remarked to detained drug suspects in Cebu province last week that if they would want to live longer they should stay in jail.

May 10, 2018

The Human Rights Watch calls out new Bureau of Corrections Director Ronald "Bato" Dela Rosa over his remarks to New Bilibid Prison jail guards this week to summarily execute imprisoned drug lords.

HRW says Dela Rosa must remember that the International Criminal Court has begun a preliminary examination into the drug war killings, and will likely consider any extension of that deadly campaign into Philippine prisons. 

READ: Biggest controversies that troubled the PNP under Dela Rosa

It adds that any such killings will also likely add to growing momentum inside the United Nations for a separate inquiry.

"These developments suggest that sooner or later, Dela Rosa may be held to account for his ongoing role in the bloody campaign he continues to zealously endorse."

April 24, 2018

In a statement, the Missionary Benedictine Sisters of the Manila Priory and St. Scholastica’s College condemn the continued killings linked to the government’s brutal war on drug even after the change in command of the country’s police force.

They also denounce the tirades hurled by President Rodrigo Duterte against international bodies and officials who have expressed concerns over these killings and who have declared their intent to investigate them.

April 24, 2018

The Human Rights Watch says fresh condemnation of President Rodrigo Duterte's drug war by the US State Department and the European Parliament shows that the government's "campaign of denial and distraction" to counter criticism against the crackdown on narcotics have failed. 

It adds that the criticisms provide more support for the International Criminal Court’s move in February to launch a preliminary examination into the killings "that senior Philippine government officials have incited and instigated, but refuse to acknowledge."

Reuters wins Pulitzers, the most prestigious awards in American journalism, in international reporting for its story on the methods of police killing squads in President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs and for feature photography documenting the Rohingya refugee crisis in Myanmar and Bangladesh.

In covering the deadly drug war in the Philippines, Reuters reporters Clare Baldwin, Andrew R.C. Marshall and Manuel Mogato "demonstrated how police in the president’s 'drug war' have killed with impunity and consistently been shielded from prosecution," Reuters Editor-in-Chief Stephen J. Adler says.

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