Human rights advocates urge law enforcers to uphold 'culture of life'

Adrian Ayalin, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 08 2017 03:45 PM

A police officer lists down names of suspected drug users and pushers at a processing center in Tondo, Manila on July 13, 2016. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - Human rights advocates on Friday called on the country's law enforcers to uphold the culture of life in implementing the law.

Legal and governance expert Tony Laviña said police and the military should be more cautious in apprehending suspects and weigh the need for force in its operations.

“Human beings are body and soul. Human beings, as such, have to be fully respected... There is no justification...whether it is the war against corruption, the war against drugs, the war against communism cannot justify any form of violation of human rights,” Laviña said at the Culture of Life Philippines forum at the Ateneo De Manila University.

Fr. Manuel Francisco of the Loyola School of Theology meanwhile said the Catholic Church strongly condemns cases of killings by any means. 

"Killing is an overkill when there are other ways to protect my life or the life of a community,” he said.

The advocates made the statement just as the Philippine National Police (PNP) geared up for its return to the drug war after barely two months of having a supporting role when President Rodrigo Duterte tasked the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency to take the lead. 

Since the launch of government's anti-narcotics campaign, the PNP has been heavily criticized over the bloody crackdown.

The government has many times defended the campaign, where over 3,800 suspects have been killed since it started when Duterte came to power in July 2016, according to official data. Officials have said those slain had put up violent resistance. 

The administration has also repeatedly asserted that it does not sanction summary killings nor condone police abuses. 

Human rights groups, however, estimate the drug war death toll at more than 10,000, a figure the government says is overblown.

Laviña reminded law enforcers that suspects who are already surrendering to authorities should be accorded due process. 

“'Pag ang tao nag-surrender, hindi mo puwede patayin. 'Pag ang tao unarmed, hindi mo puwedeng patayin. 'Yun lang tunay na lumalaban, dun tayo... kailangan nating tingnan sino ba lumalaban, sinong hindi lumalaban?" he said.