Police investigators gather evidence around the lifelessbody of Talitay mayor Abdulwahab Sabal at the entrance of a hotel in Malate, Manila following a shooting incident which killed Sabal by unidentified motorcycle riding gunmen on Monday night.
The STAR/Miguel de Guzman
CHR: Release of narco-list a violation of due process, led to violence
Franco Luna (Philstar.com) - February 13, 2020 - 7:22pm

MANILA, Philippines — The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) expressed worry on Thursday night over the recent killing of a Maguindanao mayor by a riding-in-tandem. 

On Monday, Mayor Abdul Wahab Sabal of Talitay, Maguindanao was gunned down outside a hotel in Quirino Avenue in Manila.

He was earlier included in President Rodrigo Duterte's narco-list and consequently was arrested and brought before the Justice department in September 2016. 

"This incident is another notch in a pattern of impunity and violence that has taken root in this country," CHR spokesperson, Atty. Jacqueline de Guia wrote.

The Commission has long spoken out against the Duterte administration's narco-list. 

In an earlier release, De Guia wrote, “If there is enough evidence for the government to put names in a supposed narco-list, then the just way to proceed is to file charges against these personalities to make them accountable before our laws."

Narco-list or hit list?

The president's initial narcolist was read out during a live press conference in 2016 and included politicians, lawmakers and judges alike. But this was only the first of many. 

Later on March 14, 2019, Duterte released a separate list of 46 other local government officials whom he also linked to the illegal drug trade. This second list was publicized by the Presidential Communications Operations Office and can be accessed by anyone online. 

"The rule of law must be prioritized above all; the release of the supposed narco-list in 2016 was a violation of due process and has predictably led to violence," De Guia said.

"Judgement and justice can only be achieved by going through the proper channels. This continued bloodshed is a failure of the State in protecting its citizens, as primary duty bearers and protectors of human rights."

Malacañang has said that the intention behind publicizing the 2019 list was to inform voters' decisions in the midterm elections so they would not vote for those with alleged links to the illegal drug trade, but groups including the commission have called it a potential hit list. 

According to the CHR, at least eight vice mayors and 13 mayors fell victim to similar killings between July 2016 and August 2019. 

"Good governance cannot come if public servants are living in fear; action must be taken before more lives are lost, so that we can focus on working towards a better Philippines," De Guia said. 

"This cycle of violence must be addressed, for its lasting effects and consequences are already being felt."

COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS NARCOLIST PRESIDENT RODRIGO DUTERTE
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