THE wave of “terrifying” drug killings is an indication of lawlessness and not crime control, human rights group Amnesty International (AI) said on Wednesday.
The group issued the statement after Philippine National Police chief Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa informed the Senate that unidentified persons or groups have killed at least 1,067 people while the police shot dead more than 712 drug suspects in legitimate operations since July 1.
“[The killings] is a terrifying indication that the authorities are grossly failing in their obligations to respect and protect the right to life,” Amnesty said.
The London-based organization stressed that the recent confession and obvious knowledge of authorities on the volume of citizens killed “have further endangered the right to life.”
When he appeared at the Senate on Monday, dela Rosa pledged that all allegations of murder and extrajudicial executions by police will be investigated.
But AI said an independent police complaints commission should be set up to investigate extrajudicial killings.
The commission, Amnesty suggested, should have the mandate to receive complaints and other reports of human rights violations committed by the police, be required to report publicly on its activities and have the mandate and resources to provide protection to complainants, victims and witnesses.
“Incitement to violence and discrimination are prohibited under international law and risk escalating a cycle of violence in the country. The unlawful and deliberate killing carried out by order of a state actor, or with the state’s complicity or acquiescence, is an extrajudicial execution. This is a crime under international law,” it said.
“States have an obligation to investigate and prosecute credible allegations of murder and extrajudicial executions and bring those suspected of criminal responsibility before justice in fair trials,” Amnesty added.
The Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB) said more than 45,000 “self-confessed” illegal drug peddlers have turned themselves in since the Duterte Administration implemented an intensified crackdown on drug users and pushers.
Felipe Rojas Jr., head of DDB, told members of the House of Representatives that 45,799 drug pushers surrendered while 518, 310 drug users have turned themselves in as of August 11.
Rojas briefed members of the House Committee on Dangerous Drugs chaired by Surigao del Norte Rep. Ace Barbers on Wednesday.
Because of the avalanche of surrenderers, Rojas sought amendments to the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act noting that there is no standard system of evaluation for those who have confessed to being drug users.
“Under existing laws, there has to be an issuance of a court order for a drug user to be admitted in a rehabilitation facility. This rule clogs up our processes, that’s why we are pushing that drug users be admitted in a rehabilitation facility based on the recommendation of the doctors from our Department of Health,” he told lawmakers.
There are 47 drug rehabilitation centers across the country, but there are only three rehabilitation centers for outpatients.
“In that way, there will be a streamlining of processes for treatment and rehabilitation of drug users. With a court order as a requirement…the DDB has only three lawyers, and that figure is certainly not enough to secure court orders needed for the rehabilitation of the drug users,” Rojas, a former police general, added.
He said while authorities are gaining a headway in the campaign against illegal drugs, “we have a long way to go to defeat this menace.”
Rojas urged the Congress to amend the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act by changing the definition of a drug den/dive/resort to include concert venues. He also called for higher fines and longer jail time for those convicted of drug possession and sale; plea bargain deals so that street pushers will be able to identify big-time drug lords.