Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte's crackdown
against illegal drugs is a "large-scale murdering enteprise" that
should be investigated by the United Nations, Amnesty International
In a new report entitled "They Just Kill," Amnesty warned that while there were fewer reports of killings under the campaign, the extrajudicial executions continue three years after Duterte became president in 2016.
"Three years on, President Duterte's 'war on drugs' continues to be nothing but a large-scale murdering enterprise for which the poor continue to pay the highest price," said Nicholas Bequelin, Amnesty International's regional director for East and South-East Asia.
"It is time for the United Nations, starting with its Human Rights Council, to act decisively to hold President Duterte and his government accountable," he added in a press conference where the report was released.
According to official statistics, at least 6,600 drug suspects have been killed in police drug operations from July 1, 2016 to May 31 this year. But the Amnesty report noted" "Due to the government's tactics of deliberate obfuscation and misinformation, it is impossible to know exactly how many people have been killed in the anti-drug campaign."
The report documented the deaths of 27 people in 20 incidents of drug-related killings between May 2018 and April 2019 in the province of Bulacan, north of Manila, which Amnesty tagged as "the country's bloodiest killing field" now. Eighteen of the incidents were police "buy-bust" operations, and in those cases "police tried to justify the killing by claiming that the person fought back, requiring the use of deadly force," the report said.
Amnesty cited a forensic expert as saying, "It's so consistent, it's a script. In fact, when you see the [police] report, it looks like a template." Another pattern identified in the report involves "abductions by plainclothes police - and individuals who go missing - which are then classified by police as 'buy-bust' kills when the body appears," the report added.
Presidential spokesman Salvado Panelo said Amnesty International should have helped victims file criminal cases against police officers if there were any irregularities in the operations. "They should have filed a case against the policeman and we would have welcomed it," he said.
"As the president says, we will not tolerate any police abuse because there will always be hell to pay for them." Panelo criticised Amnesty International for "politicizing the so-called extrajudicial killings," adding: "There is bias, there is prejudice."
"You cannot be politicizing, running to the media and making report without facts, without a formal complaint," he added. "Otherwise, those are mere allegations and designed to besmirch the reputation of this administration."
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