De Lima asks PH gov’t to heed US State Dept report on human rights

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Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has urged the Duterte administration not to disregard the United States (US) report on the human rights situation in the Philippines, particularly on the increasing number of extrajudicial killings in the war on drugs.

De Lima, a human rights and social justice champion, said the government cannot just turn a blind eye on the fact that the US government has classified the issue of extrajudicial killings (EJK) as a “chief human rights concern.”

“The Duterte government cannot continue ignoring concerns about the unprecedented killings and deteriorating human rights situation in the country. The President should stand up for the basic values of human dignity and stop his executioners from staining their hands with the blood of his people,” she said.

“Does Mr. Duterte need to be reminded for the nth time that human rights is universal and that state-sponsored killings, often targeting small-time drug users and pushers, can never solve the worsening drug menace in the Philippines and can actually lead to more crimes committed by authorities and vigilantes?,” she asked.

In its annual global human rights report for 2018 released last March 13, the US State Department noted “numerous reports that government security agencies and their informal allies committed arbitrary or unlawful killings in connection with the government-directed campaign against illegal drugs.”

The report further noted the media has recorded 673 deaths in police operations suspected to be connected with the government’s drug war from January to September 29, 2018 alone, further citing government data revealing that an average of six people died daily due to the government’s anti-drug operations from July 2016 to July 2018.

The report added the Philippine National Police (PNP) Internal Affairs Service, which is “required to investigate all deaths or injuries committed in the conduct of a police operation,” remained “largely ineffective.”

The former justice secretary said Mr. Duterte should stop promoting a “Do-It-Yourself” justice and start anchoring his government’s campaign against illegal drugs on human rights to prompt authorities to follow his lead.

“In the campaign against criminality, criminal methods will never be effective, let alone acceptable, no matter the circumstances,” she said.

Aside from EJKS, among the human rights issues hounding the Philippines that were cited in the report are forced disappearance, torture, arbitrary detention, political prisoners, and killings of and threats against journalists.

The US Human Rights Report cited also De Lima as one of the political prisoners in the Philippines who has been arbitrarily detained for two years now due to bogus illegal drug trading charges filed against her by the Duterte administration.

“Two years after her arrest, during which prosecutors used a variety of legal tactics to delay arraignment, including filing new and amending previous charges, Senator Leila de Lima was arraigned in August on a charge of conspiracy to commit drug trading,” the report read.

Aside from De Lima, the Report said that “human rights NGOs maintained lists of incarcerated persons they considered political prisoners” and that most political detainees in the Philippines were in pre-trial detention. De Lima, whose unjust incarceration gained local and international condemnation, has been detained since February 24, 2017 over the trumped-up illegal drug charges that were mainly based on perjured testimonies of convicted criminals and manufactured evidence.

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