MANILA – The new administration under presumptive president Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. should recalibrate the war on drugs, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) said Friday.
The CHR this week released a report that President Rodrigo Duterte's administration failed to protect the rights of the victims of his anti-narcotics crackdown and encouraged a "culture of impunity."
“The presumptive president and the new administration, I think, would continue with the drug war. And we are just hoping that they will recalibrate their approach to the drug problem,” Commissioner Gwen Pimentel-Gana told ANC’s “Rundown.”
She said the government must also continue investigating drug-related deaths.
“It’s their obligation because this drug war has actually lost, had so many deaths of innocent individuals also. They should continue seeking that justice is served to these victims,” she said.
The official also urged the police to make witnesses feels safe so they could come forward.
In a 48-page report, the CHR found that police showed "intent to kill" and used "excessive force" in drug operations.
Though law enforcers alleged the victims showed aggression or resisted arrest, the commission noted there were only 31 incidents where operatives sustained injuries. In 133 incidents, the CHR said witness accounts "state discrepancies and inconsistencies in the official police narratives."
"The use of excessive and disproportionate force is also evident in 329 incidents where a lone victim was killed in drug operations participated by a minimum of three well-trained and highly skilled police operatives, armed with highly reliable weapons," the report said.
"Out of the 234 victims with records on sustained gunshot wounds, 201 (86%) were shot in the head and/or torso — further manifesting the intent to kill by police operatives. Verily, the victims’ deaths were inevitable results of the police operations," it continued.
The CHR said it lacked access to police documents in 295 of the drug killings due to lack of response, outright denials, or pending clearance from higher offices.
It added that internal investigations on operations that led to deaths were "inaccessible and non-transparent." Precinct-level probes were conducted by members of the same station or unit, and seldom questioned the use of force and self-defense narrative, said the CHR.
“Overall, the Commission finds that the government has failed in its obligation to respect and protect the human rights of every citizen, in particular, victims of drug-related killings,” the CHR said.
“It has also encouraged a culture of impunity that shields perpetrators from being held to account.”
Acting Palace spokesperson Martin Andanar said the report presents a "rehash of old issues... that have already been responded to."
"In contrast to what a handful of critiques would want the international community to hear and read about our country, the Duterte Administration leaves a legacy of a safe and secure Philippines," he said in a statement.
Last week, Duterte remained unapologetic of the drug crackdown, which he urged his successor to continue with "stronger pressure."
Marcos and presumptive vice president Sara Duterte-Carpio in November said "the war on drugs shall be pursued and won through 'love.'"
The pair said they would build more rehabilitation centers, tap more health workers to take care of drug dependents, and give them livelihood such as making handicraft while in rehabilitation. They added government must intensify port monitoring against the possible entry of narcotics.
The International Criminal Court (ICC) in September last year approved a full inquiry into alleged crimes against humanity in Duterte's drug war, but suspended its probe some 2 months later following a request by the Philippines, which cited its own investigations.
— ANC, 20 May 2022