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HRW: Pinoys deserve accountability, not cynical spin on drug war

/ 05:03 PM April 12, 2017

A human rights watchdog group on Tuesday slammed Philippine ambassador to the United Kingdom Antonio Lagdameo’s “cynical spin” on country’s war against illegal drugs.

Philem Kine, Human Rights Watch deputy director for Asia, was referring to Lagdameo’s letter published on Monday in the Guardian.

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“President Duterte’s relentless campaign against illegal drugs is being waged with firm adherence to the rule of law, due process, and human rights. It is anchored not only in law enforcement, but also in rehabilitation of drug addicts, and poverty alleviation programs aimed to improve the lives of victims, especially young people,” Lagdameo, an appointee of President Rodrigo Duterte, wrote.

Kine said that Lagdameo has a “unique perspective” on Duterte’s war on drugs where the “police and unidentified gunmen have killed more than 7,000 suspected drug users and drug dealers,” since Duterte took office.

“Lagdameo’s statement doesn’t just underscore his willful disregard of the brutality of Duterte’s ‘drug war.’ It also suggests he is unaware – or unwilling to publicly acknowledge – how Duterte has made repeated calls for killings as part of his anti-drug campaign, which could constitute acts instigating law enforcement to commit murder,” Kine said in a statement.

He said that Lagdameo’s remarks only encourage the public to “commit vigilante violence” which “could be criminal incitement.”

“Filipinos deserve accountability for the human rights calamity that Duterte has unleashed on their country in the guise of a ‘war on drugs,’ not cynical spin by diplomats and senior government officials,” he added.

He also noted that Duterte last month admitted that impoverished Filipinos constituted a large percentage of drug war victims. Duterte said that said he could not do anything if those who get killed in the war were poor.

“You would say they are only killing the poor people… Well, I am sorry. I have to clean up until such time the drug lords are eliminated from the streets,” the President said.

READ: Duterte to poor: ‘If you die, I’m sorry’

Kine said that Lagdameo is not the only official “publicly soft-pedalling” that human toll of the President’s campaign. Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa earlier declared that the 107 suspected drug users and drug dealers shot dead by police between March 6 and April 10 were proof the drug war was becoming “less bloody.”

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READ: Bato: Reloaded drug war “less bloody”

“But dela Rosa has consistently resisted calls for an independent inquiry into the total 2,662 killings attributed to the police since July 1, 2016 by declaring it would harm police ‘morale.’” Kine said. JE

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TAGS: Antonio Lagdameo, drug war, HRW, Human Rights, Human Rights Watch, Philem Kine, war on drugs
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