VP Leni blasts right violations, inconsistencies in war on drugs
MANILA - Vice President Leni Robredo is criticizing human rights abuses being committed in the Duterte administration's war on illegal drugs.
In a recorded speech uploaded on YouTube by anti-drug network DRCNet Foundation, Robredo urged President Rodrigo Duterte to re-focus his campaign against poverty instead.
The video will be played at "Human Rights Challenge: Responding to Extrajudicial Killings in the Drug War," a side session organized by DRCNet Foundation for the 60th U.N. Commission on Narcotic Drugs annual meeting.
The session will take place Thursday, March 16, 2017, at the Vienna International Centre.
Robredo started her speech by giving an update on drug-related killings as of February this year.
"We are now looking at some grim statistics. Since July last year, more than 7,000 people have been killed in summary executions. We agree that our people deserve nothing less than a safe environment so that anyone can walk the streets safely whether in daylight and in night time," Robredo said.
Robredo said the Philippines' drug problem should not be treated as "one that can be solved with bullets alone," stating that it is foremost a public health issue.
She said the drug problem must be regarded as a complex public health issue linked with poverty and social inequality.
Robredo enumerated alleged human rights abuses being committed by authorities, mostly in poverty-stricken areas in Metro Manila, amid the war on illegal drugs.
"Communities are rounded up in places like basketball courts, women separated from men, those with tattoos asked to stand in the corner, their belongings searched," Robredo said.
She added that people were likewise denied of their right to reasonable search.
"People are told that they do not have any right to demand search warrants as they are squatters and did not own the properties in which their houses are built," she said.
Robredo also revealed a scheme wherein authorities would take a family member instead in case the original person on the drug list cannot be found.
"They told us of the 'palit-ulo scheme' which literally means exchange heads where the wife or husband or relative of a person in a so-called drug list will be taken if the person himself could not be found," Robredo explained.
She called the Duterte administration to task, and urged him to re-channel resources towards a more rehabilitative drug policy.
Robredo also questioned the government's inconsistent figures on the extent of the drug problem.
"We believe that every campaign against illegal drugs must be founded on integrity," Robredo said.
"What exactly is the scope the drug problem? Why the numbers of the extent of the problem changed as officially reported to the nation by our president inconsistent?" Robredo asked.
Towards the end of her speech, Robredo urged the public to recognize their rights and urged them not to back down amid human rights violations in the country.