De Lima supports call to probe ‘all unlawful deaths’ in PH

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Senator Leila M. de Lima today expressed support to United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions Agnes Callamard’s call to investigate “all unlawful deaths” in the country.

De Lima, a known human rights defender, said President Duterte should welcome Callamard’s call if his administration has nothing to hide about the unabated spate of extrajudicial killings in the country.

“He (the President) is in his usual default in fending off criticisms, especially coming from international experts like Dr. Callamard. He intimidates, insults and even threatens people who dare to oppose him and his policy,” she said.

“If this administration has nothing to hide, it should wave its inflexible conditions and allow Callamard to conduct a fact-finding investigation into the extrajudicial and summary killings under the all-out war on drugs,” she added.

In a series of tweets on Aug. 26, Callamard extended her condolences to the bereaved family of Kian Loyd de los Santos who was killed by the police in a drug operation in Caloocan City, as she urged the present administration to make the demise of the 17-year-old student the “last” in the Duterte regime’s bloody drug war.

Instead of heeding the message, Duterte released an expletive-laced response to Callamard’s statement, even saying “Huwag niya ako takutin…Republika ng Pilipinas ito, hindi teritoryo ng France.”

Callamard, in her recent statement, said she found regrettable Duterte’s negative response to her mere expressing sympathy with the family of Kian.

“I regret President Duterte’s response to my condolences to Kian Lyod de los Santos’ family. Kian and others like him deserve dignity and justice. His family and families like his demand our respect and empathy. Not expletives,” Callamard said.

The former chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights reiterated that Duterte should stop painting the human rights advocates as enemies of the state, noting how upholding the right to life should be his administration’s priority.

“Let me remind the President that human rights advocates do not exist to oppose his administration but rather to oppose any unjust treatment or abuses inflicted upon the citizens of this country by those in authorities,” she said.

“Instead of criticizing the promoters of justice and rule of law, the President can do better by hearing the cry of his people to end the abuses and order the police to stop the killings now,” she added.

Last September, De Lima has filed Senate Resolution No. 153 urging the Department of Foreign Affairs to invite Callamard to conduct a fact-finding investigation into the spate of extrajudicial killings in the country. Since Duterte assumed presidency, more than 12,000 people have reportedly been killed either through vigilante-style executions or “legitimized” police operations.

De Lima said she has high hopes that the death of Kian, along with many other Filipinos, will serve as a “wake-up call” to the public to stand up against abuses and cruelties happening in the country.

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