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Human Rights group welcomes Iceland resolution on the Philippines

Friday, 5 July 2019

In Defense of Human Rights and Dignity Movement (iDEFEND) welcomes the resolution filed by Iceland at the 41st UN Human Rights Council Session in Geneva, seeking a comprehensive report by the High Commissioner, on the extrajudicial killings in the Philippines pursuant to the government’s war on drugs. The draft resolution provides a critical first step to help the Philippines, which has consistently demonstrated unwillingness to address the relentless killings both by the national police and unidentified assailants.

To date over 27,000 victims of extrajudicial killings remain unaccounted for in terms of formal criminal investigation and prosecution, especially of police involved in the killings. In fact, many are simply transferred to other posts, reinstated or promoted. The war on drugs, implemented since July 2016 has not solved the drugs issue in the Philippines but has actually made it worse. The president himself expressed frustration at the continued entry of illegal drugs into the country and admitted failing in his brutal campaign to stem the problem.

But the War on Drugs has been brutalizing the Filipino people for the past three years, and President Duterte has vowed a harsher and bloodier war until the end of his term. Widespread impunity is breaking the social fabric of Philippine society, shrinking civic spaces for dialogue and engagement, corroding the rule of law, while impressing on neighbouring states who wish to emulate the violent campaign. International investigation is an imperative if lives are to be saved, if human rights are to be respected and regional human security is to be protected.

iDEFEND expects the government to vigorously oppose the measure, as they have been travelling to Europe to vilify and discredit Philippine human rights defenders, and to peddle fraudulent statements about the drug war to the international community. The government delegations’ shocking behavior at the UNHRC has exposed their frustration at the failure of their year-long operation to bury the issue. Their curses and insults are only matched by the courage of Filipino human rights defenders who continue to raise the truth.

Hopefully a majority of the members of the Human Rights Council will appreciate the urgency of the resolution and vote favourably for its adoption. More importantly, the government should end its embarrassing crusade against international scrutiny, recognize the magnitude of the country’s human rights crisis and cooperate towards a meaningful probe into extrajudicial killings.

This is for Myka Ulpina, the more than 100 children killed by the war on drugs, and the 27,000 victims of a failed and costly war, their families and orphans, and the rest of the population numbed by the daily violence and poverty surrounding their lives for three years now.