London-based Amnesty International on Saturday claimed that drug-related killings are still happening despite the government's designation of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency as the lead office in the war on drugs. Daniel Berehulak for The New York Times/World Press Photo via AP, File

Despite brief lull, continuous drug killings observed
Audrey Morallo (philstar.com) - November 11, 2017 - 11:52am

MANILA, Philippines — Drug-related killings are still happening albeit at a lower rate after President Rodrigo Duterte transferred the responsibility of the campaign to the government's anti-drug agency.

Amnesty International observed this trend, after having condemned it as "public relations" move, and said that for as long as suspects in drug killings were free the deaths would continue.

"What we are still seeing is that the killings are still happening. [T]he killings are still happening but the accountability of those who were ordered to kill has not been made possible," he said in a media conference Manila which will play host to a summit of regional meetings in the next few days," said Wilnor Papa, Wilnor Papa, Amnesty's Philippine human rights officer on Saturday.

Duterte issued a memorandum in October designating the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency as the lead agency in the campaign against narcotics, essentially relegating the police and the military to a supporting role, following vociferous criticisms over the mounting number of deaths in the government's so-called war on drugs.

READ:  Trump to raise human rights with Duterte at ASEAN summit

Papa reported that since the transfer of the responsibility to the PDEA the number of killings had gone down to five to nine a night from a high of more than 30. This high number could be attributed to the reward offered for the drug-related killings, he said.

He added that the hot spots where most of the killings happened remained the same, and these included Bulacan province, Caloocan City, Malabon, Navotas and Valenzuela, which Jose Noel Solano, section director of Amnesty Philippines, described as "killing fields."

Although the police are now adopting a hands-off policy on the government's ferocious campaign against illegal drugs, the methods of executing suspected drug criminals remain the same, according to Papa.

READ:  Duterte to Trump: ‘Lay off’ topic of human rights

"Even though the police are not tasked to do the ways are the same," he said, adding that before motorcycle-riding vigilantes are the ones gunning down drug suspects especially in the slums of Metro Manila where most of the residents are urban poor Filipinos living in extreme poverty.

 "They haven't really pulled out from the drug war. The ways they do it are still the same."

READ: Int'l watchdog reacts to Duterte's plan to hold human rights summit

Solano also warned that the drop in killings might just be a temporary "lull" in the campaign in order to diffuse the renunciation of the drug campaign following a string of teenager deaths in August believed to have been committed by cops conducting anti-drug operations.

"Sometimes maybe there are just looking for people to forget about it," he said, adding that the meetings of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations this week are a perfect way to divert the attention of people away from the problem.

"Unless there is concern and commitment in prosecuting those people who did extrajudicial killings in jail then after the lull it can comeback," he added, stressing the importance of earnestness in fighting the culture of impunity to ensure that the deaths would not return.

Solano said that US President Donald Trump should use American influence to ensure that the Philippine would abide by its human rights obligations.

"We will be extremely disappointed if he does not bring it up," he said.

Trump as well as leaders of more than 20 countries are expected to arrive in Manila this weekend for the ASEAN Summit and related meetings.

High on their agenda are concerns over North Korea's nuclear and missile programs as well as nervousness over America's commitment to the region on the shadow of a rising and increasingly vocal China.

Rights groups are also calling on Trump to raise the issue of human rights in his five-nation swing in the region where many are displaying authoritarian tendencies.

READ: Duterte among 'strongman' leaders Trump has praised

Philstar
Facebook
  • Latest
  • Trending
Latest
Are you sure you want to log out?
X
Login

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

SIGN IN
or sign in with
Read and share the latest news
whenever and wherever you are.
Top Stories
Features the most relevant stories,
exclusive content, analyses and special reports.
As It Happens
Get bite-sized highlights and up-to-date
information as the news breaks.
Latest
View the most recent
stories of the day.
Log-in
Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet,
consectetur adipiscing elit.
Quisque justo est, auctor vel ullamcorper.
Log-in
Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet,
consectetur adipiscing elit.
Quisque justo est, auctor vel ullamcorper.
How to follow As It Happens stories
STEP 1
Click the story in the As it Happens section.
How to follow As It Happens stories
STEP 2
Click "Follow Story" for updates on the news.
Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Aliquam eu metus vitae felis tincidunt finibus ut id sapien. Integer volutpat dui eu malesuada dignissim. Sed varius justo nulla, fringilla convallis sem porta sed.
How to follow Author
STEP 1
Click on the author's name in the article.
How to follow Author
STEP 2
Once you click on the author's name, you will be
brought to the Authors page. Click "Follow Author"
to stay updated on the author's works
Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Aliquam eu metus vitae felis tincidunt finibus ut id sapien. Integer volutpat dui eu malesuada dignissim. Sed varius justo nulla, fringilla convallis sem porta sed.
How to follow Tags
STEP 1
Click on a tag in the article.
How to follow Tags
STEP 2
When you click on a tag, it will take you to the
dedicated tag page where you'll see the article
viewed, along with other stories with that tag.

Click the "follow tag" button to stay updated on
the topic.
Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Aliquam eu metus vitae felis tincidunt finibus ut id sapien. Integer volutpat dui eu malesuada dignissim. Sed varius justo nulla, fringilla convallis sem porta sed.