February 2, 2017
ON THE AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL REPORT ON THE EXTRAJUDICIAL EXECUTIONS IN THE PHILIPPINES' WAR ON DRUGS
"IT IS TIME!"
I welcome the Amnesty International's Report and its Recommendations to concerned government officials and agencies, as well as to international bodies, not only to immediately and effectively end the daily killings under the present administration's war on drugs, but also to exact justice and accountability for the flagrant human rights violations that have victimized the civilian population, especially among the poor, marginalized and vulnerable sectors of our society.
The Report, which was based on verified and verifiable testimonial and documentary evidence, in addition to the successive revelations about abusive, criminal and murderous actions perpetrated by law enforcement agents, reaffirms my long-standing belief that the administration's most murderous war on drugs constitutes an obvious case of crime against humanity, as it is defined under both domestic law, particularly R.A. No. 9851 ("Philippine Act on Crimes Against International Humanitarian Law, Genocide, and Other Crimes Against Humanity") and international law, particularly the Rome Statute.
Under said bodies of law, "wilful killing" or "murder", among others, "when committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population, with knowledge of the attack" constitutes crimes against humanity.
The deliberate and systematic attacks being perpetrated under the label "war on drugs" are clearly state-sponsored, state-inspired and state-tolerated, and are, thus, brazen violations of domestic laws and of international human rights treaties binding on the Philippines. This is not a "war on drugs", but a war against the poor, against all Filipino people and, in fact, a war against our very humanity.
It is indubitable, therefore, that the circumstances behind these drug-related killings already warrant an immediate and impartial investigation of the International Criminal Court (ICC) which the Philippines is a state member under the Rome Statute.
It is time! It is time that the ICC intervene and end these daily killings.
Such intervention could no longer wait another day as the death toll, which is currently at 7,669 based on official figures, continues to increase. God forbid that we should wait until the end of this administration's term in 2022, or wait until they leave power, before we do something in order to save the lives and aspirations of the victims and their families and, most importantly, salvage our sense of humanity.
These suspected drug offenders deserve the equal protection of our law guaranteeing them the basic presumption of innocence until proven guilty and therefore should be accorded due process. Thus, it is deeply disturbing, and plainly wrong and reckless for no less than the country's chief justice officer of the executive branch to shamelessly claim that these suspected drug offenders are not part of "humanity". Such a heavily loaded statement, given the killings taking place every day, serves to embolden more "Death Squad"-style killings. Anyone who utters such culpable statements is not just a disgrace to his profession, but is, in truth, a danger to society and a cancer to our Justice System.
I invite President Duterte and Justice Secretary Aguirre to heed the recommendations of the AI report, particularly for the respective offices under them. Their failure to curb the alarming growing rate of "systematic, organized and planned" extrajudicial executions puts the country to further international shame and condemnation.
Friday, April 28
Thursday, April 27