Nothing, not even a pandemic, seems to slow down kingpin Rodrigo Duterte’s drug-related killing spree. A research published by Human Rights Watch (HRW) on September 8 pointed out that Duterte’s bloody war on drugs has worsened during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Analyzing the latest statistics of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency on the drug war (PDEA), HRW determined that at least 155 persons were killed by the police in the past four months. The figure is 50% higher than the 103 killings recorded in the previous four-month period (December 2019 to March 2020).
PDEA claims that only 5,810 individuals have been killed in police drug operations since Duterte assumed power in June 2016. The figure, however, covers only those acknowledged officially by the Philippine National Police (PNP).
Since 2016, the PNP has recorded more than 21,000 so-called “deaths under investigation.” The term refers to killings widely considered to have been perpetrated by death squads and vigilante groups to be recruited from the ranks of the police and criminal syndicates. Media and human rights organizations place the actual number of victims between 27,000 and 30,000.
The revolutionary movement supports calls of the human rights organization for the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) to reopen discussions and probe further into human rights abuses in the Philippines as it is scheduled to convene this month.
Last June, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said in her report the the UNHRC that Rodrigo Duterte’s “campaign against illegal drugs is being carried out without due regard for the rule of law, due process, and the human rights of people who may be using or selling drugs.” She added that “[t]he killings have been widespread and systematic–and they are ongoing,” and that these are a result of “incitement to violence from the highest levels of government.” On April 30, Bachelet again raised concerns over Duterte’s “highly militarized” response to the Covid-19 pandemic which has resulted in mounting cases of human rights violations.
A report jointly published by the World Organisation Against Torture and the Children’s Legal Rights and Development Center on July 7 revealed that children were also deliberately killed in the name of Duterte’s war on drugs. It identified patterns for the killings, including “the direct targeting of victims; killings of children as proxies when the real targets could not be found; as a result of mistaken identities; and as so-called collateral damage.” At least 122 children victims were recorded since July 2016, seven of whom were killed from January to March 2020.
Last August 27, 62 international organizations submitted a joint statement to the UNHRC to demand an independent investigation into the human rights situation in the Philippines following the killing of two activists in the same month.