CHR's Report on Investigated Killings in Relation to the Anti-Illegal Drug Campaign

In its Report on Investigated Killings in Relation to the Anti-Illegal Drug Campaign on April 2022, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) concluded, in fine, that “majority” of the “killings” were done “outside the context of law enforcement operation” and that the government “failed in its obligation to respect and protect the human rights of every citizen” as well as “encouraged a culture of impunity”.


Such conclusion is bereft of any factual or legal bases, it is nothing but an attempt to discredit and malign the government, both locally and abroad, and seeks to push the narrative that the killings were “sanctioned” by the State. However, nowhere in the CHR’s 48-page Report is such conclusion supported by clear evidence – all but mere assumptions and surmises of CHR. If any, the deaths can be attributed to legal police operations, or at most, that the police officers on the ground may be liable. However, it needs a case to be filed in court to prove, and not for the CHR to conclude that it is “sanctioned” by the State.


The CHR Report mentions the statements of alleged witnesses to the purported killings, but there is no thorough investigation conducted on the backgrounds, motives, and/or the credibility of these purported witnesses. Otherwise, if these witnesses are reliable, then the CHR is duty bound to recommend charges against the alleged erring police officers instead of erroneously and irresponsibly putting the blame to the State.


It is noteworthy that the CHR did not include in their Report the fact that many of the deaths in the drug war were perpetrated by drug syndicates and drug groups themselves who kill their competitors. There is also no mention of the law enforcement officers and agents who lost their lives in the anti-drug campaign during this period. It is as if only the drug peddlers have human rights, but not the police officers who gave their lives in the line of duty to protect us.


Instead of trying to paint a dark picture of the so-called drug war, the CHR should have included, for the purpose of providing proper context, the data on the number of arrests, cases filed in court, the volume of drugs confiscated, the number of drug surrenderers under Oplan Tokhang, the data on those who availed of rehabilitation, those who underwent Community Based Rehabilitation Programs, the Balay Silangan project, and the decrease in the crime rate during the same period.


The CHR, being an integral part of the government, should not demonize the very government it ought to serve and protect, more so, without basis. Rather than maligning it, the CHR should assist the government to protect the human rights of the police officers and the innocent public against the menace of illegal drugs, and to apply a fair approach before condemning the government without due process of law.


NTF-ELCAC Legal Cooperation Cluster

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