The Philippine Star

An interesting measure on extrajudicial killings has been filed at the House of Representatives. Part of House Resolution No. 1745 states: “Human rights violations, including EJK, have been a perennial threat against a significant number of Filipinos for decades already.”

The resolution notes that “this longstanding impunity has been consistent with the annual reports on extrajudicial killings by the Human Rights Watch relating that the human rights situation in the country remains appalling, if not ascending, across varying political regimes as shown by the unabated and progressing rate of the said killings, including attacks against political activists and journalists and abuses committed during the armed conflict with the current 54-year-old communist insurgency.”

Human rights advocates may agree with these observations. But they will likely find it bizarre that the resolution was filed by the eldest son of Rodrigo Duterte. Believe it or not, Davao City Rep. Paolo Duterte is seeking a congressional probe, “in aid of legislation,” on EJKs and other human rights abuses in the country.

Duterte wants the period covered by the probe to be expanded to the past 25 years up to the present. He points out that EJKs, mostly related to illegal drugs, “continued to peak” in 2023 under the second Marcos administration, and not only in the Duterte bailiwick of Davao City.

If the resolution sponsor had been anyone else but Rodrigo Duterte’s son, it could make for a stronger case about the persistence of rights abuses and EJK. And it could lead to reforms that would strengthen the human rights situation in the Philippines.

Instead the resolution tends to spread the blame around amid an ongoing investigation by the International Criminal Court of Rodrigo Duterte for possible crimes against humanity in the course of his brutal war on drugs during his presidency and when he was Davao City mayor. And it makes the point that EJKs and rights violations continue, based on reports from law enforcement agencies.

Paolo Duterte’s brother Sebastian, now mayor of Davao City, has drawn the attention of rights advocates for declaring war on drugs and vowing to kill suspects himself. This was followed by the killing of at least seven drug suspects in the city within just four days after the declaration. Seven Davao cops were sacked following the killings; on May 23, the city’s police chief, Col. Richard Bad-ang, was replaced.

Congressman Duterte is recommending the conduct of the probe by the appropriate House committee. There is in fact an ongoing House probe into the drug killings, but the two principal players – Rodrigo Duterte and his chief enforcer-turned-senator Ronald dela Rosa – will not be pressed to attend. This inquiry could prove to be as much of a farce as Resolution 1745.

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