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Network Against Drug War Killings urges probe, fears gov’t cover-up

NAKPhilippines says Duterte has brought human rights crisis to new, more dangerous level

Press Release
November 22, 2016

MANILA – The Philippine government should hold accountable members of law enforcement agencies implicated in the extrajudicial killings of civilians in its “war on drugs,” the newly formed Network Against Killings in the Philippines (NAKPhilippines) said today. At the same time, the Duterte administration should thoroughly and credibly investigate the thousands of summary killings attributed to unidentified gunmen since June 30, 2016.

Since the start of Duterte’s war on drugs, not a single law enforcer has been brought to court to answer allegations of extrajudicial executions during so-called “legitimate police operations.” “What the police and President Duterte himself have done is to defend the actions of police officers involved in these operations even though a credible investigation has yet to take place. We fear not only a lack of accountability but possible government cover-up for these crimes,” said Father Amado Picardal, one of the group’s convenors who also serves as its spokesperson.

The government has likewise failed to launch any meaningful investigation into the more than 3,000 so-called “death under investigation” killings, indicating a serious failure to fulfill its responsibility and duty to investigate crimes – particularly crimes of this brutal nature with no semblance of due process – and bring the perpetrators to justice. “The Duterte administration’s failure to investigate these summary killings is a serious lapse in its human rights commitment but at the same time also indicates complicity in these atrocities,” Father Picardal said.

Several human rights advocates and civil society organizations, concerned about human rights, civil liberties and rule of law in the Philippines, formed NAKPhilippines early this month. “We organized ourselves because civil society needs to take a firmer, stronger and principled stand against extrajudicial killings and the continued erosion of universal human rights in the Philippines,” the group said in its launching statement released today. “Like the human rights advocates that have campaign against death squad killings since 1999, we are outraged by these violations and are committed to do what we can to stop the killings, demand accountability from government, assert human rights for all, and protect human rights defenders.”

NAKPhilippines said the administration of President Duterte has not only made the human rights situation in the Philippines worse – it has brought it to a whole new and more dangerous level as the killings in its war on drugs continue. “It is time for these killings to stop and for the killers to be brought to justice,” it said.

Unlike previous administrations that have denied complicity in past extrajudicial killings, the Duterte government “encourages these abuses and even promises protection to the perpetrators, taking an already egregious human rights situation to a whole new and more dangerous level,” it said.

In the first five months of the Duterte administration, nearly 5,000 people have been killed in its brutal war on drugs, with the police saying that more than 2,000 of that died in police operations while the rest were killed by unidentified assailants, what the police calls “deaths under investigations” that appear to be death squad killings. A number of children were among those killed.

NAKPhilippines will hold its launching activity on Nov. 23, which is also the 7th anniversary of the Ampatuan Massacre. It will hold a “National Day of Prayer and Solidarity for Victims of Extrajudicial Killings and Their Families” through a Mass to be celebrated by Bishop Broderick Pabillo at 4:45 PM at the Shrine of Mother Perpetual Help, Redemptorist Church in Baclaran, Manila. Families of victims of the drug have been invited to attend the Mass and the solidarity activities that will follow. Convenors and supporters of NAKPhilippines will also be present. A press conference by Bishop Pabillo and the group’s representatives will also be held at the Sinirangan Café inside the church compound.

The group’s launching statement is supported and endorsed by several groups from the Philippines and abroad, among them the Asian Human Rights Commission (Hongkong), Bahay Tuluyan (Philippines), Bawgbug Advocates for Peace and Human Rights (Philippines), Coalition Against Summary Execution (Philippines), Cross Cultural Foundation (Thailand), Human Rights Watch (USA), Human Rights Office (Sri Lanka), Jagaran Media Center (Nepal), Justice and Peace Commission of the HK Catholic Diocese (Hong Kong), Katilingbanong Pagtambayayong (Philippines), LBH Padang (Legal Aid) (Indonesia), Mindanao Peoples Caucus (Philippines), Sentro (Philippines), Terai Human Rights Defenders Alliance (Nepal), Interfaith Cooperation Forum in Hong Kong (Hong Kong), Janasansadaya - Panadura (Sri lanka), Conectas Human Rights (Brazil), Community Development Foundation Pakistan (Pakistan), Centre for War Victims and Human Rights (Canada), Odhikar (Bangladesh), and Sedane Labour Resource Center (Indonesia). Dozens of individuals have also signed up and the group expects more in the coming days.

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