THE Commission on Human Rights (CHR) has stressed the need to “revisit” the government’s war on illegal drugs, saying the campaign has provided a good cover for rogue policemen as proven by the kidnapping and killing of a Korean business executive last year.
The CHR said the killing of Jee Ick-Joo is alarming because it “depicts the worsening culture of impunity” in the country amid the spate of summary executions as the Philippine National Police (PNP) carries out a bloody campaign against illegal drugs.
“The allegation that the kidnap for ransom is linked to the drug campaign of the PNP highlights the imperative to revisit the campaign,” the commission said in a statement.
“Amidst the rising toll of extra-judicial killings in the country, the so-called “war on drugs” has become a convenient cover for rogue elements within the PNP to commit other crimes, such as kidnapping for ransom of foreign nationals,” it added.
Jee’s house help, Marisa Morquicho, who testified at the Senate on Thursday, identified SPO3 Ricky Santa Isabel as one of the policemen who abducted her employer.
The CHR also backed National Human Rights Commission of Korea Chairperson Lee Sung-ho’s call on the Philippine government to respect and abide by the principles of due process.
“The right to life is a fundamental and primordial right regardless of race, gender, religion and status, among others,” it said.
The CHR reminded the PNP to “strictly adhere” to its Police Operational Procedures and the United Nations Code of Conduct of Police Officers and to remember that the national police must promote and protect human rights.
“”(T)he PNP must promote and protect human rights because this task lies at the very core of maintaining peace and order, ensuring public safety, and upholding the rule of law in the country,” it said.
Black Friday rally
On Friday, hundreds of activists held a rally in front of the Philippine National Police (PNP) headquarters in Camp Crame in Quezon City to denounce the culture of impunity and rising human rights violations in the government’s war on drugs.
Those who joined the “Black Friday” rally called on the government to stop killings under the guise of “Oplan Tokhang.”
Policemen shut the camp’s Gate 1 along Edsa as members of various militant groups stormed Camp Crame.
The militants also slammed the apparent breakdown of discipline in the PNP and the failure of its leadership to go after rogue policemen.
Members of the League of Filipino Students (LFS) described the killing of Jee as “a scandal that has exposed the true nature of the regime’s Oplan Tokhang” which they also branded as “a legitimized massacre operation that allows state forces to kill and extort under the guise of drug elimination.”
“The recent scandal on the killing of a Korean national has shown that the PNP is brutal, corrupt, and rotten to its core. This is part of the culture of impunity that the agency has employed to spread fear among the people,” said LFS national spokesperson JP Rosos.
Members of the Bagong Alayansang Makabayan (Bayan) lined-up at the camp’s gate while holding a huge tarpaulin imprinted with: “End Impunity! Fight State Terror.”
Others were holding placards saying: “Parusahan ang mga Berdugo,” “Stop the killings” and “Rage against impunity” referring to the drug-related killings.
“The human rights situation in our country has gone from bad to worse. With impunity, our state forces have been slaughtering the people and sowing fear in every communities in the country. Infuriatingly, they are able to get away and they can still hold their head high even after countless deaths in their trail,” Rosos said.
“The remorseless killings under the Duterte regime’s crusade against drugs must be put into an end. The youth and the poor are the most vulnerable in Oplan Tokhang’s police operations. Civil liberties and human rights are not being upheld. There is no due process. It is an utter madness that must be strongly condemned,” he added.
Members of Gabriela who joined the protest also raised the rape of a woman by an intelligence officer based in Southern Tagalog.
Joms Salvador, Gabriela secretary general, said that the culprit, Insp. Aaron Cabillan, should be sacked and jailed.
with Fernan Marasigan