Human rights researcher offers help to Robredo in ending ‘murderous’ drug war

Vice-President Leni Robredo (R) attends a press conference with Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) chief Aaron Aquino in Manila on November 8, 2019.
AFP/Maria Tan

MANILA, Philippines — A human rights researcher and advocate offered to help Vice President Leni Robredo in her quest to improve the government’s campaign against illegal drugs as she co-leads the committee overseeing the crackdown.

“Dear [Vice President Leni Robredo], my bags are packed and I’m ready to come to the Philippines to help advise how to end this murderous ‘drug war,’” Phelim Kine, former deputy director of Human Rights Watch’s Asia division, said on Twitter.

He was reacting to a tweet that said Robredo will meet with United Nations officials to discuss the government’s campaign against illegal drugs.



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“Meanwhile, here is my recommendation number one: arrest [President Rodrigo] Duterte and his henchmen for inciting and instigating mass murder,” Kine also said.  

Kine, who is now the director of research and investigations at Physicians for Human Rights, spent 11 years at HRW—one of the international watchdogs critical of Duterte’s anti-narcotics initiative.  

During his stint at the human rights watchdog, Kine repeatedly demanded that Duterte and other senior officials involved in the campaign that has led to the deaths of thousands, mostly urban poor Filipinos, be held accountable.

At least 6,847 drug personalities have been slain in anti-narcotics operations since Duterte assumed office in mid-2016, according to government figures.

But the figure is significantly lower than the estimates of human rights watchdogs of as many as 27,000 killed.

Robredo, co-chair of the government’s Inter-agency Committee on Illegal Drugs on Saturday said she is set to consult with UN officers on “researches and studies about best practices [and] and lessons from other countries regarding the campaign against illegal drugs. She will also meet officials of the United States Embassy.

Two days after she accepted the post—seen by allies as “trap” to tarnish her—Robredo met with the body and vowed to put an end in the “senseless” killings in the drug war.

“I believe that in all police operations, anything can happen, but we oppose deliberate and planned killings of innocent people,” Robredo said. 

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