Amnesty urges Marcos to end 'drug war' as killings persist

Gaea Katreena Cabico - Philstar.com
Amnesty urges Marcos to end 'drug war' as killings persist
Policemen stand guard near the body of a man killed during what police said was a drug-related vigilante killing in Barangay Manggahan in Pasig City early yesterday.
The STAR / Joven Cagande

MANILA, Philippines — Human rights group Amnesty International has called on the administration of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to adopt a clear and unequivocal policy ending the "war on drugs" and extrajudicial killings.

In a report released on Wednesday, Amnesty International stressed that extrajudicial executions in the context of the government's campaign against illegal drugs persisted throughout the second year of the Marcos presidency.

There have been over 600 drug-related killings since Marcos took office in June 2022, according to the Dahas Project of the University of the Philippines Third World Studies Center.

"This shows that extrajudicial killings continue and are unabated," Amnesty International Philippines Director Butch Olano said.

"Amnesty calls on the Marcos administration to make an explicit and categorical policy pronouncement to end the so-called 'war on drugs' and extrajudicial killings," he added.

Marcos has continued his predecessor's anti-drug campaign, but has emphasized a rehabilitation-focused approach to the drug war. Amnesty International urged the government to allocate sufficient funding for rehabilitation efforts.

The recently released annual human rights report from the United States State Department also highlighted that extrajudicial killings in the Philippines continue to be a "serious problem."

Watchdog Human Rights Watch also said earlier this month that Marcos's failure to halt violent anti-drug raids has emboldened local executives like Davao City Mayor Sebastian Duterte to revive his father's "war on drugs."

The International Criminal Court (ICC) is currently investigating alleged crimes against humanity in the "war on drugs" carried out during Rodrigo Duterte's term as president, and earlier, as mayor of Davao City.

Amnesty International urged the Marcos government to cooperate with the ICC investigation, rejoin The Hague-based court, and ensure safeguards to prevent any administration from withdrawing from the tribunal.

'Failed miserably'

"President Marcos has turned his back on human rights and this is seen by his ignoring the call for justice of victims of human rights violations, especially victims of extrajudicial killings, by his failure to protect human rights defenders and journalists, and by neglecting the plight for ordinary Filipinos for decent life," Olano said.

"The Marcos administration has failed miserably in its state obligation to protect, respect, and fulfill human rights," he added.

Amnesty International called on the government to abolish the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC)—a Duterte-era body known for red-tagging civilians.

The organization also urged the Philippine to approve the human rights defenders bill, pass a legislation providing adequate assistance for families of victims of drug-related killings, and repeal or significantly amend the Anti-Terrorism Law.

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