Amid killings, Reds pull out of Duterte’s drug war

The Philippine Star

BAGUIO CITY, Philippines – The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) has decided to withdraw its support for President Duterte’s war against illegal drugs, saying it “has rapidly spiraled into a frenzied campaign of extrajudicial killings and vigilante murders” which it alleged were perpetrated by the police and by police-linked criminal syndicates.

“Nearly 1,000 people have been killed in just a little more than one month. The rights of tens upon thousands of people are being violated as the criminal justice system is upturned,” the CPP said in a statement dated Aug. 12.

The withdrawal of the CPP’s support came on the heels of the supposed resumption of formal talks between the government and the National Democratic Front slated on Aug. 22 in Oslo, Norway. The President has also lately been at loggerheads with CPP founder Jose Maria Sison, who is based in Utrecht, the Netherlands. 

The CPP, which earlier vowed to run after drug lords with its armed wing the New People’s Army operating hand-in-hand with Duterte, said the President’s “drug war” had clearly become anti-people and anti-democratic.   

“Human rights are being violated with impunity by police personnel, emboldened by Duterte’s assurances of ‘I got your back’ and his public declarations of contempt against human rights,” the communist rebels said.

Though the NPA will no longer be considered as cooperative with the administration’s “war on drugs,” the CPP said “in line with standing orders,” the NPA would “continue to intensify its operations to arrest and disarm drug trade operators and protectors.”  

 “As before, the NPA will continue to exercise due process in dealing with suspects, such as those PNP (Philippine National Police) officers presently in custody in Compostela Valley and Surigao del Sur,” the group added.

The government does not recognize the communist guerrillas’ processes and their kidnappings of police personnel and other individuals, among other attacks, are considered criminal acts that they have to deal with before the country’s courts.

The CPP claimed while the Duterte regime unleashed unmitigated violence and threats of violence against the people, mostly victims and people at the lowest rungs of the criminal syndicate ladder, suspected drug lords and their protectors were afforded courtesy calls in Malacañang, accommodations at guest house of the PNP headquarters in Camp Crame and preliminary investigations by the National Bureau of Investigation.

The worst that they have been made to undergo is to suffer the lectures of the PNP chief, it added.

The CPP also scored Duterte’s name and shame campaign, saying the lists of so-called politicians and judges supposedly involved in the illegal drug trade were released without proof nor clear basis for the accusations.

“He (Duterte) could not even tell the people how the lists were drawn. It is a mystery even to the chief intelligence officer and head of the PNP,” the CPP said.

“Duterte has become so full of himself and intoxicated with the vast power he is not used to handle that he thinks he can get away with upturning the criminal judicial system and denouncing people for defending human rights,” the group said. “He dishes out threats of imposing martial law. He has made himself a laughing stock among legal circles.

“He, however, is not laughing and threatens anyone who chooses to stand in his way,” the CPP said.

According to the CPP, Duterte’s “drug war” is bound to fail because it does not address the socio-economic roots of the problem.  

It reminded the President that it had been proven in history that no amount of killing would succeed in putting an end to the drug menace, citing Mexico where after 10 years and with almost 80,000 people killed, the intensity of the drug problem remained the same, if not worse. – With Edith Regalado

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