Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has joined the call from United Nations (UN) human rights experts in urging the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) to investigate the extrajudicial killings and other gross human rights violations in the Philippines.
De Lima, a known human rights defender here and abroad, said she is one with the human rights community in calling for an independent investigation into the human rights abuses done under the Philippine government’s all-out war on drugs.
She, however, lamented that Mr. Duterte has incessantly refused to address the reports of glaring human rights violations and abuses by police and security forces because the directive to kill and put the law in their hands came from him in the first place.
“Amid persistent calls by human rights watchdogs and international organizations to finally put an end to the killings and abuses in the country, the murders pursuant to Mr. Duterte’s war on drugs continue, with only a few cases investigated, prosecuted, and handed out convictions,” she said.
“I fully concur with the 11 UN experts that the United National Human Rights Council must take concrete actions to address the human rights crisis in the Philippines by setting up and dispatching urgently an independent investigation into the unlawful and unresolved killings in the country,” she added.
Last June 7, 11 UN rights experts asked the UNHRC to look into the “staggering number of unlawful deaths and police killings in the context of the so-called war on drugs, as well as killings of human rights defenders.”
The experts include UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions Agnes Callamard, on situation of human rights defenders Michael Forst, on promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression David Kaye, and chair of the working group on the issue of discrimination against women in law and in practice Geset Techane, to name a few.
“Thousands of Filipino lives were unjustly taken, and the President and his allies remain unperturbed. Worse, they always readily dismiss efforts by international forces to solve and put an end into the extrajudicial killings in the country as another political interference, if not destabilization plot,” De Lima pointed out.
In September 5, 2018, De Lima sent a formal communication to the UNHRC requesting for the creation of an international independent fact-finding mission as an urgent action in what she called as the human rights crisis in the Philippines.
In her message for the 39th UNHRC session last September 2018, De Lima underscored the need for “international solidarity and mobilization of public support to uphold, defend and protect human rights in the Philippines and elsewhere.”
“Even just on the aspect of extrajudicial killings in the so-called drug war, which has already claimed the lives of more than 20,000 mostly poor Filipinos, no prompt, genuine, thorough, and effective criminal investigation has ever been launched by the authorities in the Philippines, she said in her letter.
“I fully concur with the observation of many leaders in Philippine civil society and international human rights groups that the UN Human Rights Council must take concrete and sustainable forms of action such as the setting up of an independent international investigation,” she added.
Since Duterte carried out his so-called war on drugs in July 2016, about 28,176 individuals were killed – 5,176 of whom are considered “drug personalities” while 23,000 are victims under the category of “homicide cases under investigation” (HCUIs).
As early as 2016, De Lima has filed Senate Resolution (SR) No. 9 seeking for a Senate investigation into the rampant extrajudicial killings and summary executions of suspected drug offenders in the country. Even in detention, she filed several resolutions, such as SR Nos. 357, 358, 421, and 451, seeking for a Senate investigation into the alleged involvement of some unscrupulous police officers in cases of extrajudicial killings and summary executions.