AN international group of “progressive” parties and world leaders has warned against a “rising tide” of violence and death in the Philippines under President Rodrigo Duterte, and called on the United Nations to investigate.
In a joint statement, the Progressive Alliance (PA), which gathered prime ministers and presidents as well as 140 representatives of major leftist political parties in Germany, said the Philippine administration’s drive against illegal drugs make for a “violent witch hunt.”
“First, the extra judicial killings resulting from a government campaign targeting people for their supposed links to drugs, is shredding the country’s adherence to the presumption of innocence and equal protection of the law,” it said.
“[T]he government’s current anti-drugs campaign manifests as a violent witch hunt that primarily victimizes poor people unable to afford legal defense [for themselves],” it added.
The group urged the global community to pay attention to the developments in the “fragile and contested democracy” in the Philippines.
“We believe the United Nations, in the absence of tangible, decisive action on the part of its national authorities to desist from these anti-democratic practices, should investigate the situation in the Philippines and forward recommendations how the international community can help its citizens,” it noted.
PA is an association of social democratic, socialist and labor parties including those from Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Germany, and the Workers’ Party in Brazil.
The group said the passage of the controversial death penalty bill in the House of Representatives, as well as the lowering of the minimum age of criminal responsibility to 9 from the current 15, seemed “intent on going down a path of death and violence.”
“Both measures are backward, barbaric, cruel and violent – they should not be accepted in societies today,” it said.
The group called on the Duterte administration to abandon these measures as it called out President Duterte’s inflammatory language and pronouncements that, it said, explicitly condoned the killing of suspected drug users.
It also sought a stop to the branding of those who oppose the anti-drug campaign as “protectors of drug trade lords and coddlers.”
“Women leaders of the opposition like Leila de Lima, [Vice President] Leni Robredo and [Senator] Risa Hontiveros have been subjected to well-orchestrated online campaigns of harassment, bullying, and misogynistic attacks,” it said.
‘Don’t threaten martial law’
The group urged Duterte not to threaten the public that he would declare martial law to solve the problems in the country, most especially in Mindanao.
“[We dare] President Duterte to desist from baiting the public with dictatorship and Martial Law as solutions to the country’s problems,” it said.
PA’s statement was approved during a convention in Berlin, Germany and among those in attendance as indicated in the statement were Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven, Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa, German Social Democratic Party chancellor candidate Martin Schulz, Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern and the vice chair of the Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament, Maria Joao Rodrigues.