Rise Up! for people’s rights, Stop drug-related killings!

Karapatan today expressed its support for Rise Up!, a campaign initiated by faith-based groups, institutions and people’s organizations against the drug menace and for the protection of human and people’s rights against drug-related extrajudicial killings, as it holds a public forum and launch today at the Iglesia Filipino Independiente (IFI).

“Karapatan calls on our fellow citizens to uphold people’s and human rights amid a system that breeds the existence and proliferation of the illegal drug trade. We will support efforts to educate the general public on the roots and impact of the global drug on the Filipino people, to document cases of drug-related killings, and to advocate against the brazen impunity by which these killings are conducted in direct violation of the right to life and to due process,” said Jigs Clamor, Karapatan Deputy Secretary General.

Karapatan previously reported the use of President Rodrigo Duterte’s war against drugs in the conduct of counter-insurgency operations of the Philippine National Police in San Jose Del Monte, Bulacan, where four farmer activists were illegally arrested and detained last October on charges related to the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 (Republic Act 91656).

The farmers’ personal belongings were taken and their families were traumatized. They were wrongly accused as members of the New People’s Army (NPA) and one of them was mauled. The four are members of the Karahumi Farmers Association (KFA), an organization that has long been resisting the landgrabbing of more than 1,000 hectares of agricultural lands in Bulacan. Police authorities planted evidence against them. “Batak kami sa trabaho, hindi kami batak sa droga,” said one of the arrested farmers.

Three of the farmer activists were released from detention, while another KF member, Romy “Nonoy” Gaitero, remains in jail.

“We are also receiving disturbing reports that the Armed Forces of the Philippines, even while the GRP has declared a unilateral ceasefire in relation to its peacetalks with the NDFP, continues military operations under Oplan Bayanihan by encamping in civilian communities, threatening and harassing civilians suspected of being members of the NPA and conducts census of residents in the guise of Oplan Tokhang,” said Clamor.

Karapatan reiterated its call to Duterte to stop drug-related killings and to respect the people’s rights to due process.

“The drug menace can be eliminated without curtailing the basic rights of the people, especially of the poor. In fact, it is through upholding the rights of the people, especially social and economic rights, that the people can repudiate the use and trade of illegal drugs. The government should instead strive to improve the living conditions of the Filipinos, especially the marginalized, by providing them secure jobs with living wages, free education and health care, and land to cultivate.” 

“The system that breeds the proliferation of drugs is the same one that causes unrest among the Filipinos. Thus, it is important that the root causes of poverty, that serves as a breeding ground for the existence of the illegal drug trade, and others that give rise to armed conflict be addressed thoroughly,” Clamor concluded.