MANILA - The human rights situation in the Philippines worsened in the second half of 2016 under the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte, according to the latest European Union Annual Report on Human Rights And Democracy.
In the 2016 report that was adopted by the council last week, October 16, the EU noted some positive developments, particularly in peace negotiations with rebels and efforts to eradicate poverty.
"Positive developments under the government of President Duterte include the new momentum provided to the Mindanao Peace Process, peace negotiations with the Communist Party of the Philippines/New People’s Army/National Democratic Front and a socio-economic agenda aimed at lifting people out of poverty," the EU report said.
On the other hand, it said: "Despite positive developments in some areas, the human rights situation in the second half of the year has considerably worsened as a consequence of the so-called 'war on drugs.'"
The Philippines has defended a surge in killings since Rodrigo Duterte was elected president last year.
On Monday Duterte said he will take a hands-off approach on the war on drugs after ordering the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency to take the lead in the war on drugs.
The Philippine National Police has also said there have been no extrajudicial killings under the Duterte administration.
The EU report said that while there was a decrease in the number of extrajudicial killings under the Aquino administration, there was no follow-up and key legislative measures were not passed until Duterte assumed office and launched the war on drugs.
"Various problems – in particular the culture of impunity and torture –remain, however, and a series of key legislative measures were not passed. The second half of the year was marked by a serious deterioration in respect for the right to life, due process and the rule of law," it added.
The report also said that President Duterte's statements "seemingly encouraged" the police to be aggressive in dealing with drug suspects. It also cited human rights advocates' statement saying Duterte's pronouncements encouraged vigilante killings.
Meanwhile, it was also mentioned that EU's Committee to Protect Journalists ranked the Philippines as no. 4 in the world on the Global Impunity Index in 2016, adding that killings of human rights defenders and media workers remain largely unresolved
"Duterte has made statements justifying the killing of ‘corrupt’ journalists and human rights defenders. On the other hand, he has issued a landmark ‘Freedom of Information Order’ and has recently created a Presidential Task Force on Violence against Media Workers," the report said.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano recently said the Philippines will stop accepting grants from the EU following a statement of President Duterte.
"The whole point of his speech is we have a problem on drugs, but certain groups are giving wrong facts, fake news. Sinisiraan tayo all over the world, so that's why he's decided na sa ngayon hindi tatanggapin ang bagong grants from the EU," Cayetano said.