08 October 2017
Statement of the Commission on Human Rights on the SWS survey on people’s perception of the extrajudicial killing situation in the country
The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) echoes the sentiments of the people in the recently released SWS survey showing that majority of Filipinos express fear that they themselves may become victims of extrajudicial killings (EJKs); believe that poor suspects are killed, while rich and powerful ones are spared; and want drug suspects to be arrested alive during police operations.
With the Philippine National Police (PNP)’s pronouncement that there is no single case of extra-judicial killing under the current administration, the CHR insists that EJK “encompasses any killing by Government forces as well as killings by any other groups or individuals which the Government fails to investigate, prosecute and punish when it is in a position to do so,” as defined by former UN Special Rapporteur Philip Alston. Limiting the definition of EJK based only on a focused operational definition provided in the Administrative Order 35 would discount killings that are also perpetrated by state agents and non-state actors that remain uninvestigated.
Thousands of deaths have been reported to be committed by both vigilante and police personnel during the ongoing anti-illegal drug operations. The Commission maintains that killing must never be an option to solve the drug problem in the country. Although there are high-profile personalities being caught and killed in the campaign, Filipinos in lower socio-economic classes tend to suffer more, and yet, no one has been held accountable for any of these killings.
The Commission underscores that in all circumstances, the police must take reasonable steps to ensure that the right to life of everyone, including suspects and criminals, are protected, and to observe maximum tolerance when faced with situations where force is necessary.
In the fight against criminality, strong justice institutions coupled with accountable police and law enforcement agencies are necessary for perpetrators of violations to be held to account and to restore trust based on equal rights among the people.
If there are cases of deaths during police operations that exhibit excessive use of force, it is imperative that the State launch effective and meaningful investigations of these alleged violations. The usual reason of ‘nanlaban’ does not justify the killings. Denying these allegations without observing due process of law would not yield substantial solution to the issue, but would just cultivate a culture of impunity within the ranks.
The CHR, however, welcomes the commitment of the PNP to clean up its ranks and file charges against rogue cops. Both the CHR and the PNP are institutions established to protect every Filipino’s human rights. #
Atty. Jacqueline Ann C. de Guia
Director, Public Affairs and Strategic Communication Office
Telephone No: (02) 928-5792 / 0977 284 0787
Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org