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Jennilyn Olayres hugs the body of her partner Michael Siaron who was murdered by a gunman and left with a cardboard sign with a message “I’m a pusher” in a street in Manila, Philippines.
[Noel Celis / AFP]

Philippines Vice President Releases Defiant Video Calling on President Duterte to “Uphold Basic Human Rights Enshrined in Our Constitution Instead of Encouraging Its Abuse”

Trump Reported Praised Duterte’s Methods In Phone Call

NGOs and Philippines Human Rights Chair to Press Issue Thursday March 16, 1:10-2:00pm CET, Vienna International Centre

During the now underway UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) meeting in Vienna, Vice President Leni Robredo of the Republic of the Philippines will be featured in a powerful new video statement in which she challenges President Rodrigo Duterte’s deadly Drug War.  “Our people have fought long for our rights and freedoms… We are not about to back down now,” she said. (See Monday’s Time Magazine story on the newly-released video.)

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The bloody Drug War encouraged by President Rodrigo Duterte, left, is being criticized by Vice President Leni Robredo.
[SunStar Manila]

Since Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte took office in mid-2016, police and vigilantes in the country have reportedly killed more than 7,000 purported drug suspects, without bothering to hold trials. The victims include a mayor, a Korean businessman and countless others.

A leading critic of the killings, Sen. Leila De Lima, was jailed last month on charges that are widely viewed as suspect.

The US has suspended arms sales and an economic aid package to the Philippines over the situation, and UN agencies including the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB), a key player in UN drug policy that is based in Vienna, condemned extrajudicial killings in its annual report issued last week. The INCB joins a growing list of UN agencies, governments, and NGOs speaking out.

In Vienna the CND will consider resolutions on areas such as international cooperation, the UN Sustainable Development Goals, and public health measures to prevent HIV and other blood-borne infections among people who use drugs.  A major topic of discussion during the last CND, without resolution, was the issue of the death penalty for drug offenses, which the Philippines Congress is currently considering; along with lowering the age of criminal responsibility from 15 to 9.

Bloody Crackdown Receives Widespread Condemnation — But Praise From Trump

Although President Duterte’s violent crackdown on “drug dealers” (who knows how many of them actually were, and how many were innocent victims, since there were no trials) has received widespread, worldwide condemnation, Donald Trump in a December phone call, reportedly praised Duterte’s methods in a phone call.

Duterte said that Trump was receptive to the brutal crackdown, which has resulted in thousands of executions with no conviction, and without even a trial, of accused dealers and users in the island nation. Duterte’s stated plan is to “kill all” of the Philippines’ suspected drug users and dealers, according to Emily Rauhala at The Washington Post.

The Philippine president has invoked the Holocaust to defend his bloody War On Drugs. “Hitler massacred 3 million Jews,” he said. “Now, there are 3 million drug addicts. I’d be happy to slaughter them.”

“[Trump] wishes me well in my campaign and said that we are doing it as a sovereign nation, the right way,” Duterte said, reported Reena Flores at CBS News. He described an “animated” Trump, saying “I could sense a good rapport.”

“He was wishing me success in my campaign on the drug problem,” Duterte said. “He understood the way we are handling it, and he said there’s nothing wrong in protecting your country.”

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Chito Gascon, Commission on Human Rights:
“[T]he number of people killed in the eight months since Duterte came to power has already exceeded the recorded number killed during the first year of the Marcos dictatorship”
[Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy]

“President Duterte is scaling-up the same ‘playbook’ that he utilized as Mayor of Davao City for 23 years,” said Chito Gascon, chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights of the Republic of the Philippines. “He was unable to make Davao drug-free by pursuing this approach yet he is convinced that it will create tangible results by applying the same on a national basis.

“Thus far, what is clearly observable is that the number of people killed in the eight months since Duterte came to power has already exceeded the recorded number killed during the first year of the Marcos dictatorship,” Gascon said.

“The extra-judicial killings, publicly encouraged by President Duterte, show how this so-called war on drugs is a serious threat to human rights and the rule of law,” said Alison Smith of the Brussels-based non-governmental organization (NGO), No Peace Without Justice. “The Philippine authorities should immediately launch investigations and prosecute where appropriate.”

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David Borden, StopTheDrugWar.org:
“Authoritarian and populist figures are on the rise worldwide, and Duterte’s murderous drug war demonstrates one of the dangers that go with that”
[YouTube]

“Authoritarian and populist figures are on the rise worldwide, and Duterte’s murderous drug war demonstrates one of the dangers that go with that,” said David Borden, executive director of StopTheDrugWar.org. “Governments should prove their commitment to human rights – by using their diplomatic and economic leverage to help stop the killings, to eventually seek justice, and to encourage health-based approaches to substance misuse.”

The event was organized by Borden, executive director of the UN-accredited NGO DRCNet Foundation (popularly known as “StoptheDrugWar.org”), who will be moderating along with Marco Perduca, former member of the Italian Senate. A key partner in the project is the Council of Asian Liberals and Democrats, a coalition of political parties from throughout the region.

WHAT:  “Human Rights Challenge: Responding to Extrajudicial Killings in the Drug War” – a Side Session at the 60th annual meeting of the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs.
WHEN:  Thursday, March 16, 1:10-2:00pm CET
WHERE:  Vienna International Centre, Conference Room MOE79
WHO:  Vice President Leni Robredo of the Republic of the Philippines (via video)
Former Prime Minister of Thailand Abhisit Vejjajiva, (via video – discusses a similar episode from his country in 2003)
Chito Gascon, chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights of the Republic of the Philippines
Alison Smith of the Brussels-based international criminal justice NGO No Peace Without Justice
Lousewies van der Laan, former leader of the Dutch “D66” liberal parliamentary group.

 

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