EJK victims’ kin, rights advocates call for an end to killings, challenge PH gov’t to cooperate with UN report process

Condemning the killings under President Rodrigo Duterte’s regime, relatives of the victims of extrajudicial killings, along with several human rights groups on Wednesday, July 17, 2019 trooped to the Department of National Defense (DND) in Camp Aguinaldo and to the Philippine National Police (PNP) Headquarters in Camp Crame, Quezon City.

Led by Rise Up for Rights and for Life, Karapatan, Promotion of Church People’s Response, Stop Killing Farmers Campaign, and several other groups, the protest actions were held few days before Duterte’s 4th State of the Nation Address and in time for the International Justice Day. The protest action also comes alongside the adoption of the Iceland-led UN Human Rights Council resolution on the human rights situation in the Philippines.

According to the human rights groups and the kin of the victims, the President should immediately put an end to his bloody campaign against Filipinos: “Ipinapanawagan namin ang tuluyang pagtigil ng pamamaslang sa ating bansa kasabay ng sana’y pagbawi ni Pangulong Duterte sa kaniyang mga pahayag na ‘walang problema sa pagpatay.’ Sobra-sobra na ang dumanak na dugo – ng mga maralitang tagalungsod, ng mga magsasaka, ng mga aktibista, at iba pa. Itigil na sana ng pamahalaan ang militaristang pamamaraan sapagkat ito ay makailang-ulit nang napatunayang hindi epektibo,” they said.

From July 2016 to May 2019, data from the PNP showed that at least 6,600 persons were killed under President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs, but according to reports from civil society and media groups, an estimated 27,000 people have been killed in relation to the illegal drug trade as of March 2019. This numbers, however, does not include the several killings of farmers and human rights defenders since the President took office.

According to Karapatan, at least 266 individuals have been killed in line with Duterte’s counterinsurgency campaigns Oplan Kapayapaan and Oplan Kapanatagan. At least 216 of them are peasants, including the farmers and farmworkers killed in Negros in the course of the PNP and AFP’s implementation of Memorandum No. 32. Karapatan also documented 155 human rights defenders killed under the Duterte administration, with 11 human rights workers of Karapatan among those killed.

“Three years under Duterte, the government showed that they remain in a killing frenzy while targeting the poor in its twisted, vigilante, and militarist campaigns. It is high time for all of us to pressure the government and to demand justice for all the victims of their bloody war – in line with the drug war and the counterinsurgency program. We need to put the perpetrators to account because of their gruesome rights violations against the Filipino people,” Karapatan Deputy Secretary General Roneo Clamor said.

“It is well-remembered that these series of killings in our streets were caused by the policies, directives, and pronouncements made by the President. His words and orders, either direct or indirect have emboldened state forces, mercenaries and hired killers to further violate people’s rights with impunity,” he added.

Clamor also raised the UN HRC resolution adopted on Thursday, July 11, 2019, to look at the human rights situation in the country. The kin of victims and advocates also called on the government to cooperate with the investigation.

Since the news on the adoption of the resolution, several government officials including Duterte, Foreign Affairs Sec. Teodoro Locsin, the PNP, and administration-backed senators have responded negatively.

“The government should stop distorting the principles and concepts of human rights. They must start cooperating with the investigations if they do not have anything to hide. The way that the Duterte government has reacted has been through one shameful statement after another. We challenge them to stop justifying their murderous acts and face the consequences of the policies that have led to the wholesale massacre of poor Filipinos,” Clamor concluded.