Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has welcomed the call by Human Rights Watch (HRW) for the Philippine government to support a United-Nations (UN)-led investigation into the rash of extrajudicial killings under Duterte’s campaign on drugs. De Lima, a known human rights defender, said Duterte should seriously take heed of HRW’s call even just to prove that his administration has nothing to do about the continued surge of drug-related killings in the country.
“Thousands of Filipinos are getting killed, and sadly, President Duterte remains unperturbed. He chooses to ignore reports of glaring human rights violations and abuses by police and security forces who put law in their hands instead of facing the issue head-on,” she said.
“If he has nothing to hide, then it’s high time for the President to support the independent investigation into the human rights violations and abuses incessantly happening under his regime,” she added.
Last Feb. 1, the New York-based human rights organization maintained that a UN-led investigation could help reconcile what others claimed to be a discrepancy between government figures and independent estimates of drug-related killings.
Data from the Philippine National Police (PNP) showed that around 3,968 drug suspects died in “legitimate police operations” from July 2016 to January 17, 2018.
On the other hand, nongovernmental groups, such as Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates and the International Drug Policy Consortium, put the drug war casualties to be more than 12,000, while the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines estimated the figure could reach more than 13,000.
“We cannot just accept the data coming from the PNP, especially now that dozens of suspected drug offenders have reportedly been killed in the past months since PNP resumed its role in the government’s drug war,” she said.
Last Dec. 2017, Duterte brought the PNP back to his anti-narcotics campaign after a three-month suspension. Meanwhile, the police force relaunched its house-to-house anti-drug operation Oplan Tokhang on Jan. 29.
While the PNP previously promised a “less bloody” campaign, their records show that around 46 drug suspects were already killed during alleged gunfights with policemen in 3,253 anti-drug operations from Dec. 5, 2017 to Feb. 1, 2018.
De Lima is the first to call for an independent fact-finding commission to investigate cases of extrajudicial and summary killings in the country, which earned her the President’s ire.