Today is the International Day of Peace.
Development and peace go together, and this is why the United Nations sees as central to the achievement of sustainable development the drastic reduction of all forms of violence, the promotion of the rule of law, and equal access to justice for all.
This day is especially significant for our country since for the last three months, the country has been wracked by seeming government-sponsored violence and lawlessness, by a war the administration has declared, ostensibly against drugs but which has become a war against poor and marginalized Filipinos. Since the election of President Rodrigo Duterte, over 3000 people, practically all of them alleged drug users from the poor sector of Philippine society, have been subjected to extra-judicial execution either by the police or by vigilante groups. While President Duterte’s subordinates invent ever more complex arguments to exonerate him, he has made little attempt to conceal his preference for the extra-judicial execution of suspected drug dealers and users and his impatience with due process. He has also enthusiastically given the green light to vigilantes to shoot pushers and users. And he has made it very clear that he does not believe in rehabilitation, which is the principal policy of all other governments towards users.
In Defense of Human Rights and Dignity Movement called for the immediate investigation and prosecution of the Davao Death Squad in the light of yesterday’s Senate hearing on extrajudicial killings.
Ellecer Carlos, iDEFEND spokesperson, called the witness account of Edgar Matobato a horror story of unbridled criminality in Davao during President Duterte’s term as mayor of the city. Duterte has publicly admitted his connection to the Davao Death Squad and pledged to replicate their methods in Manila.
In Defense of Human Rights and Dignity Movement (iDEFEND) strongly condemns the Davao City Night Market bombing which resulted in the deaths of 14 people and injuries to 67 others. This calculated, deliberate, and brutal assault on defenseless civilians is intolerable, and the perpetrators of this most atrocious act should be brought to justice through diligent, affirmative, yet lawful actions by the Duterte administration. iDEFEND commiserates and sympathizes with the loved ones of the victims of the bombing, and extends its sincerest condolences and solidarity.
In a low-handed attempt to derail investigations into the killing of suspected drug peddlers and dependents in the country, President Duterte has accused Senator Leila de Lima of being immoral, an adulterer, with links to the illegal drugs trade. The President is especially scathing in his attacks on women critics. Not only does he hurl accusations left and right as if there are no laws on evidence governing this country, accusations against women are also painted with personal malice—something you don’t hear against male critics. Demonstrating a conduct unbecoming of a head of state, indeed, strutting like a common brute, a bully, the President resorts to name calling when he should be presenting legal arguments and facts to support his policies.