US State Department notes rise in PH drug killings
The US government continues to be alarmed by the extrajudicial killings (EJKs) and police impunity in the second year of President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs.
In its annual global human rights report for 2017, the US State Department said the unabated killings of drug suspects remained the top concern because the majority of the cases have not been solved.
“Extrajudicial killings have been the chief human rights concern in the country … and, after a sharp rise with the onset of the antidrug campaign in 2016, they continued in 2017,” said the 2017 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices.
Few cases probed
Reacting to the report, Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said the Philippines did not need other countries “to tell us what to do.”
“We do not need others who think they know better than us Filipinos to tell us what to do. As a sovereign nation, the Philippines deserves the same kind of respect we have been extending to our friends in the international community,” Cayetano said in a statement on Saturday.
He sought to assure the international community that “in the conduct of our [antidrug] campaign, we will remain guided by the rule of law.”
The US report, released on Saturday, said “concerns about police impunity increased significantly following the sharp increase in police killings.”
It said that while the police claimed to have begun investigating all reports of EJKs, only 1,889 cases have been resolved and 4,373 cases remained “under investigation” by August 2017.
The US human rights report followed recent criticisms of Mr. Duterte’s drug war by the European Parliament.
In a resolution passed on Thursday, the EU parliamentarians condemned EJKs that targeted mainly the poor in the war on drugs, the detention of Sen. Leila de Lima and threats against human rights defenders.
Cayetano earlier drew criticism for saying that members of the European Parliament had “crossed the redline” in issuing a resolution that called out the Philippine government for 12,000 EJKs in its war on drugs.
Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano and Akbayan Rep. Tom Villarin denounced Cayetano’s “double standard,” noting the feeble response of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to reports of increasing Chinese military activities on artificial islands within the Philippines’ 370-kilometer exclusive economic zone.
“It is simply preposterous for [Cayetano] to assert the principles of sovereignty and noninterference in calling out the European Parliament on its resolution urging the end of drug war-related killings,” Alejano said.
Villarin said Cayetano “maintains a double standard in foreign policy when he describes the action of the European Parliament as constituting interference” when “China is aggressively taking our islands with only a muted response from the DFA.” —With a report from DJ Yap