MANILA – (UPDATED) More than 300 non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have signed a letter stating that the killings of suspected drug pushers and users in the Philippines under President Rodrigo Duterte ''do not constitute acceptable drug control measures.''
Advocates and administration critics are growing concerned that basic human rights are being sidelined in Duterte's war on drugs, as the number of suspected drug pushers being killed rises by the day.
Human Rights Watch, one of the NGOs critical of Duterte's seeming approval of the killings, also urges the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) and United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) to condemn the surge in killings.
''International drug control agencies need to make clear to Philippines' President Rodrigo Duterte that the surge in killings of suspected drug dealers and users is not acceptable 'crime control,' but instead a government failure to protect people’s most fundamental human rights,” said Phelim Kine, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch.
“President Duterte should understand that passive or active government complicity with those killings would contradict his pledge to respect human rights and uphold the rule of law.”
In its letter, the consortium said 353 NGOs called on the UNODC and INCB to emphasize to Duterte that his war on drugs must be grounded in international law.
It also seeks an end to Duterte's incitements to kill people suspected of committing drug-related offenses, and a stop to efforts to revive death penalty in the Philippines.
According to data gathered by the ABS-CBN Investigative and Research Group, 704 people have been killed from May 10 to July 29, 2016 amid the new Duterte administration's ongoing campaign against illegal drugs.
The group scored the police for churning out the usual excuse that the suspects were killed for resisting arrest but have not provided further evidence that the police acted in self-defense.
It criticized Duterte for saying that the killings are proof of the ''success'' of the anti-drug campaign, and police chief Ronald dela Rosa for branding a Senate probe into the killings as a ''legal harassment''.
Solicitor-General Jose Calida also earned criticism from the group for saying that the number of deaths was “not enough.”
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