Posts Tagged ‘death squads’

Philippine President Declares Martial Law in Mindanao: Spokesman

May 23, 2017

(Reuters) – Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday declared martial law in southern Mindanao province after fighting raged in southern Marawi City between the army and militants linked to Islamic state.

Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella made the announcement in Moscow, where the president is on a visit.

A meeting with Dmitry Medvedev will be canceled on Wednesday but Duterte will remain in Russia, Foreign Minister Alan Peter Cayetano said in a televised news conference.

(Reporting by Martin Petty; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

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Philippine President Duterte talks About a “Junta.” He’s just joking, right?

May 22, 2017
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/ 12:09 AM May 22, 2017
OPINION

Just before leaving for Cambodia last May 10, President Duterte announced the appointments of Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano as secretary of foreign affairs and Gen. Eduardo Año as secretary of the interior and local government. Earlier, the President named Gen. Roy Cimatu, a former AFP chief of staff, as environment and natural resources secretary.

Año is scheduled to assume his new post on June 2. Although up for compulsory retirement in October yet, Año will take early leave from the service to allow for his move to the Department of the Interior and Local Government. That makes four former military officers in President Duterte’s Cabinet which already has retired generals Delfin Lorenzana and Hermogenes Esperon Jr.

All four are graduates of the Philippine Military Academy and served continuously in the military organization throughout their professional careers. None of them are lawyers. But what they bring to the table are the old-fashioned values of discipline, a capacity for hard work, a willingness to place community interests above self, and most of all, a love of country. They also have their share of critics. Upon leaving the service, they automatically became civilians bringing with them their military background and experience.

In the Duterte Cabinet, there are two key groups that oversee and control government operations. One is the triad of economic managers made up of Finance Secretary Sonny Dominguez, Socioeconomic Secretary Ernesto Pernia, and Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno. The other group is the other triad of former military officers that include Lorenzana, Esperon, and incoming Interior Secretary Año.

When the President jokingly announced that Año’s appointment completes his “junta,” perhaps he was not joking. With Año taking over the DILG, a key Cabinet position will be in the hands of a professional soldier with no political attachments and a reputation for getting the job done while instilling discipline in the organization. You will note that in Año’s short stint as AFP chief of staff, a more effective offensive was waged against the Abu Sayyaf and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, resulting in greater casualties inflicted on those terror groups.

General Año’s unusually early appointment also closes the door to interested parties who would have used the office for political advantage.

This move of the President reveals an aspect of his character that has escaped earlier notice. When we speak of a “junta,” the image it conjures is that of a military group controlling government operations, especially after a revolutionary seizure of power. The best example of such a group would be the Egyptian military led by Gen. Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. After overthrowing the civilian government of President Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood, the junta called for elections with El-Sisi running for president. He won with 96 percent of the vote in an election international observers described as rigged.

Closer to home is the Thai military junta known as the National Council for Peace and Order that overthrew Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra in 2014. After a few years, elections were held with the junta leader Gen. Prayut Chan-o-cha being appointed prime minister by a military-dominated legislature with the blessings of the Royal Palace.

A junta can also be civilian in composition and can come about in a peaceful setting. The word “junta” is derived from the Latin “jungere” meaning “to join.”

In theory the three branches of our government serve as a system of checks and balances to make sure no one branch becomes too powerful. But the reality in the Philippines is that the legislative branch is practically an adjunct of the executive. After every presidential election, most elected representatives, regardless of original party affiliation, move over to the administration party or the party in power, citing all kinds of reasons. This provides the administration party with a supermajority to ensure that what the president wants the president gets. Even the official House minority bloc is often referred to as a company union. This supermajority also provides insurance against any impeachment complaints filed against the president.

The other branch, the judiciary, has often been described as “dysfunctional” with all pillars of the criminal justice system in disarray. Justice moves in painfully slow steps with cases often requiring many years before decisions are made. It is a system that favors the moneyed and the influential. And so our detention facilities are overcrowded with mostly the poor and marginalized; and often they are not even facing charges, but unfortunately they have no access to legal help for the paperwork that would get them released.

It is a system where the word “temporary” as in “temporary restraining order” (TRO) can sometimes mean eternity. Even the President has expressed alarm and displeasure with the issuance of TROs that delay the speedy implementation of infrastructure projects. It is a system crying out for reforms.

In truth, we do not have a working system of checks and balances. Whether we like it or not, what we do have is a powerful junta within the executive branch composed of six civilians under the President. This is the body that will make and implement the most important decisions affecting the nation and the lives of our people.

Read more: http://opinion.inquirer.net/104192/was-it-a-joke-or-the-reality#ixzz4hp1bTrMG
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Philippines: Presidential Spokesman Calls 7,000 Extrajudicial Killings “Fake News” (It’s actually more like 9,000) — Further Erodes Credibility of Philippine Government, Philippine National Police (PNP)

April 21, 2017
Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella called reports on more than 7,000 extralegal killings “false news.” PCOO/King Rodriguez

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte’s spokesperson on Friday called reports of nearly 9,000 drug-related deaths “false news,” months after media organizations and international groups used the figure in their reports.

Ernesto Abella, the presidential spokesperson, said that the persistent reports of more 7,000 killed, which is now said to be nearly 9,000, was “false news” as the Philippine National Police (PNP) said that the figure was much lower.

“On the number of extrajudicial deaths, the persistent news reports of 7,000 killed, which is now being said to be close to 9,000, is false,” Abella said.

The president’s spokesperson said that based on official police data there were only 6,011 homicide cases being investigated. Of the figure, only 1,398 cases were found to be drug related, contrary to reports that 9,000 have already been killed in anti-illegal drugs operations, Abella said.

Abella, meanwhile, called on organizations which report on drug incidents to be fair and not to rush to judgment as he emphasized that people appreciated the changes being implemented by the administration and the way these were carried out.

“We ask to be understood not just from a single perspective, but from the point of view of Filipinos who desire change, stability and fairness,” Abella said.

The number of murders and homicide cases, however, have risen dramatically at the start of the Duterte administration last year despite government’s denial that they are related to the brutal war on drugs. Drug experts also acknowledge that stringent law enforcement policy against narcotics have historically resulted in unnecessary violence and deaths.

Abella’s comments came days after a Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey showed that public satisfaction with the government’s conduct of the war on drugs plunging by 11 points, from +77 in December 2016 to +66 in March 2017.

He also assuaged American concern on the increasing extrajudicial killings in the Philippines, saying that those who breached protocol would be made to account.

“We share the concern of US Assistant Secretary of State for Southeast Asia Patrick Murphy, who has been quoted in the media saying ‘there are elements of the drug war that are operating outside the rule of law,’” the spokesperson said.

Abella said that the PNP has an Internal Affairs Service which would probe into cases of police violations.

“This body can suspend or dismiss PNP personnel based on violations incurred and can recommend the filing of criminal charges,” he said.

He said that security forces followed procedures in conducting their operations although force may be used to protect the safety of the police.

“Local authorities follow operation protocols and the proper enforcement of our laws requires the use of reasonable force merited by the attendant circumstances,” he said.

Not a single cop, however, has been accused by police investigators before a court of unjustifiably killing drug suspects in police operations. President Rodrigo Duterte himself said he will defend and pardon cops accused of wrongdoing in the field.

http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2017/04/21/1692511/abella-calls-7000-extrajudicial-killings-fake-news

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Discarded — The body of a dead Filipino girl — killed in President Duterte’s war on drugs — looks like it has been put out with the trash….. Presidential spokeman Abella said the war on drugs is for the next generation of Filipinos.
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Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte (L) talks to Philippine National Police (PNP) Director General Ronald Dela Rosa. AFP photo

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Philippine National Police chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa

Philippines: Human Rights Watch director Phelim Kline also said the numbers of fatalities in the drug war launched by President Rodrigo Duterte when he assumed office on June 30, 2016, are “appalling but predictable” since he (Duterte) vowed to “forget the laws on human rights.”

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Philippines Policeman found tortured and strangled after some fellow police said he was involved in the illegal drug trade. Photo Credit Boy Cruz

http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2016/07/08/1600763/cop-linked-drugs-tortured-killed

 (December 23, 2016)

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 (Philippine Star, December 1, 2016)

 (Philippine Star, December 1, 2016)

“They are afraid the incident could cause President Duterte to declare martial law. I talked with some sultans and ulamas and elders here… and that’s what they have told me,” Ponyo said.

 (November 30, 2016)

 

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High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein. UN Photo, Jean-Marc Ferré

Summary executions of supposed drug dealers and other criminals have become a common occurence in recent weeks. The STAR/Joven Cagande, file

 (November 16, 2016)

 

 (August 10, 2016)

Davao City’s Ronald dela Rosa has been appointed to become the next chief of the Philippine National Police to lead President-elect Rodrigo Duterte’s planned crackdown on illegal drugs. Facebook/Dela Rosa
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Crime scene investigators examine a vehicle used by two drug suspects killed during an alleged shootout with officers along NIA Road in Quezon City on June 21, 2016. JOVEN CAGANDE/file
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President Rodrigo Duterte's crusade against drug users and dealers is controversial

 

Workers burying cadavers in various stages of decomposition in a mass grave in Manila, after health officials recovered the cadavers from Henry's Funeral Home. Picture: AFP / Noel Celis.

Workers burying cadavers in various stages of decomposition in a mass grave in Manila, after health officials recovered the cadavers from Henry’s Funeral Home. Picture: AFP / Noel Celis.Source:AFP

A worker arranging cadavers in various stages of decomposition at the morgue of Henry's Funeral Homes in Manila. Picture: AFP/ Noel Celis.

A worker arranging cadavers in various stages of decomposition at the morgue of Henry’s Funeral Homes in Manila. Picture: AFP/ Noel Celis.Source:AFP

Health officials closed Henry's Funeral Home after recovering at least 120 unclaimed and rotting cadavers in Manila. The city health department conducted a surprise raid after receiving complaints about a foul odour coming from the funeral parlour. Picture: AFP / Noel Celis.

Health officials closed Henry’s Funeral Home after recovering at least 120 unclaimed and rotting cadavers in Manila. The city health department conducted a surprise raid after receiving complaints about a foul odour coming from the funeral parlour. Picture: AFP / Noel Celis.Source:AFP

Workers carrying cadavers in various stages of decomposition at the morgue of Henry's Funeral Homes in Manila, October 2016. Picture: AFP / Noel Celis.

Workers carrying cadavers in various stages of decomposition at the morgue of Henry’s Funeral Homes in Manila, October 2016. Picture: AFP / Noel Celis.Source:AFP

Philippines: National Police killings ‘committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack against a civilian population’ — ‘Reign of terror’ — ‘Extermination’ — Insiders talking to evidence gatherers for the International Criminal Court

April 18, 2017
At least 39 people were killed in police operations during Holy Week as Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa proved true to his word that there would be no Lenten break in the war on drugs. AP/Bullit Marquez, file
  • Almost 9,000 people killed since President Rodrigo Duterte took office in June
  • Two senior officials have claimed that police orchestrated many of those killings 
  • Police paid to kill drug suspects and – for 10,000 pesos ($200) a head – rapists, pickpockets, swindlers, gang members, alcoholics and other ‘troublemakers’

The Philippine police have given bonuses for killing drug suspects, planted evidence at crime scenes and carried out most of the murders they blamed on vigilantes, said two senior officers.

The officials, who are critical of President Rodrigo Duterte’s ‘war on drugs,’ challenged the government’s explanations of the killings in interviews.

Almost 9,000 people, many small-time users and dealers, have been killed since Duterte took office on June 30. Police say about a third of the victims were shot by officers in self-defence during legitimate anti-drug operations.

Human rights monitors believe the remaining two thirds were killed by paid assassins working with police or by police disguised as vigilantes – a charge the police deny.

Philippine police have received cash payments for executing drug suspects, planted evidence at crime scenes and carried out most of the killings they have long blamed on vigilantes, claim officials critical of President Rodrigo Duterte's (pictured) 'war on drugs'

Philippine police have received cash payments for executing drug suspects, planted evidence at crime scenes and carried out most of the killings they have long blamed on vigilantes, claim officials critical of President Rodrigo Duterte’s (pictured) ‘war on drugs’

The two senior officers, one a retired police intelligence officer and the other an active-duty commander, claimed the killings are in fact orchestrated by the police, including most of those carried out by vigilantes. They spoke on the condition of anonymity.

‘It is the Philippine National Police doing it,’ said the retired intelligence officer.

‘This killing machine must be buried six feet under the ground.’ He said he was angry about the impact of the killings on police discipline and wanted ‘to put Duterte on the defensive.’ Reuters was unable to independently verify if the police are behind vigilante killings.

The president’s office and the Philippine police did not respond to questions from Reuters.

The intelligence officer has authored an unpublished 26-page report on the conduct of the drug war in an effort to organize opposition to Duterte’s campaign.

The report, titled ‘The State-Sponsored Extrajudicial Killings in the Philippines,’ provides granular detail on the campaign’s alleged methods, masterminds and perpetrators. The document has been shared with leaders of the Catholic Church in the Philippines and with the government-funded Commission on Human Rights.

Some of the report’s accusations against individuals could not be confirmed by Reuters; the news agency is therefore not publishing the full document.

Many of its findings, however, support and expand upon previous investigations of the drug war by Reuters and independent human rights monitors.

Human rights monitors believe paid assassins operating with police backing or by police disguised as vigilantes killed two thirds of the 9,000 people who have died since June 30 - a charge police deny

Human rights monitors believe paid assassins operating with police backing or by police disguised as vigilantes killed two thirds of the 9,000 people who have died since June 30 – a charge police deny

The report claims that police are paid to kill not just drug suspects, but also – for 10,000 pesos ($200) a head – rapists, pickpockets, swindlers, gang members, alcoholics and other ‘troublemakers.’

It also claims that civilian members of the so-called Davao Death Squad, which rights activists allege killed hundreds of people in Duterte’s hometown of Davao, were drafted to ‘augment and assist’ the police’s current nationwide anti-drug operation.

The report doesn’t provide documentary evidence for its accusations, which the intelligence officer said were based on accounts from 17 serving or former policemen, including the commander Reuters interviewed. The police commander said he agreed to talk because he was upset that authorities are targeting only petty drug suspects. ‘Why aren’t they killing the suppliers?’ he asked. ‘Only the poor are dying.’

The second half of the report is largely political in nature, asserting that Duterte has close ties to Communist forces in the Philippines. Many in the military and police are concerned by what they see as Duterte’s leftist sympathies. Since taking office, the president has released Communist rebels from prison to restart peace talks.

The report also calls the drug war a ‘social cleansing’ campaign similar to that launched in Mao Zedong’s China, with Duterte aiming to have drug addicts ‘physically eliminated.’

The Commission on Human Rights has reviewed the report and the accounts could open up new leads in ongoing investigations, said chairman Chito Gascon. Church officials confirmed receiving the report as well.

A report claims that police are paid to kill not just drug suspects, but also - for 10,000 pesos ($200) a head - rapists, pickpockets, swindlers, gang members, alcoholics and other 'troublemakers' (pictured, police interrogating local residents in operation against drugs

A report claims that police are paid to kill not just drug suspects, but also – for 10,000 pesos ($200) a head – rapists, pickpockets, swindlers, gang members, alcoholics and other ‘troublemakers’ (pictured, police interrogating local residents in operation against drugs

‘We should do all we can to follow any lead that could ultimately shed light on these killings with the view to ultimately holding the perpetrators to account,’ said Gascon.

The fresh claims come amid growing criticism of the drug war. In February, the country’s influential Catholic Church called it a ‘reign of terror.’ The campaign has also sparked street protests and lawsuits.

Duterte’s police chief, Ronald Dela Rosa, halted police operations for most of February after it emerged that an anti-drug unit had kidnapped and murdered a South Korean businessman last year. The killings continued but at a slower pace. On March 6, Dela Rosa announced that the police were resuming their drug operations.

In March, a former policeman, Arturo Lascanas, testified in the Philippine Senate about his role in vigilante-style killings in the southern city of Davao, where Duterte was once mayor. Lascanas was the second Senate witness to link Duterte to the Davao Death Squad. Duterte denies ordering any killings, either as president or mayor.

In a subsequent interview, Lascanas told Reuters that for over a decade he was paid for carrying out the liquidation of drug suspects and criminals. In the early 1990s, he said, he was paid 3,000 to 5,000 pesos ($60-$100) for each of the ‘jobs’ he performed.

By the early 2000s he was earning tens of thousands of pesos for each operation, he said. Lascanas said he had no documentary proof of the payments. He has since left the country.

In the past nine months, police acknowledge having shot dead more than 2,600 suspects during their operations. They say such shootings occur after suspects open fire on undercover officers trying to catch them dealing drugs.

It also claims that civilian members of the so-called Davao Death Squad, which rights activists allege killed hundreds of people in Duterte's hometown of Davao, were drafted to 'augment and assist' the police's current nationwide anti-drug operation. Pictured, Duterte with Trade Secretary Liam Fox)

It also claims that civilian members of the so-called Davao Death Squad, which rights activists allege killed hundreds of people in Duterte’s hometown of Davao, were drafted to ‘augment and assist’ the police’s current nationwide anti-drug operation. Pictured, Duterte with UK Trade Secretary Liam Fox

But these so-called ‘buy-busts’ are actually well-planned executions, said the commander interviewed by Reuters. The commander said targets are chosen from lists of suspects drawn up by police and local officials, who later coordinate to unplug security cameras in the neighbourhood where a killing is planned. According to the report, street lamps are also switched off.

‘There is no such thing as a legitimate buy-bust,’ the commander said. ‘The dealers know the cops and won’t sell to them.’

Instead, he said, a team of police operatives will execute the target, who is almost always unarmed, then plant guns and drugs at the crime scene to justify the use of deadly force.

‘We have to plant evidence for the legality of the operation,’ the commander said. ‘We are ordered to do these operations, so we have to protect ourselves.’

The commander said officers put the gun in the dead suspect’s hand and pull the trigger with the victim’s finger so forensic testing will show that the suspect fired a gun.

Late last year, he said, police crime-scene investigators told their fellow officers to place the guns at a slight distance from the suspects, rather than in their hands, to make things look more realistic.

Most drug suspects in his precinct are shot by rookie cops who are either eager for the experience or nominated by their superiors, the commander said. The superiors refer to this as a ‘baptism by fire.’

Each member of the team is quickly paid according to two factors, said the commander: his role in the killing and the target’s value.

According to the report, the cash ‘reward scales’ for drug killings range from 20,000 pesos ($400) for a ‘street level pusher and user,’ to 50,000 pesos for a member of a neighborhood council, one million pesos for ‘distributors, retailers and wholesalers,’ and five million for ‘drug lords.’

Police officers kill for money, said the commander, but also out of fear: Even the police are afraid of being included on a ‘watch list’ of drug suspects drawn up by police and local officials.

Officials have been killed for not cooperating, he added. He said he was aware of two cases but did not provide details on exactly what happened.

Most drug suspects in his precinct are shot by rookie cops who are either eager for the experience or nominated by their superiors, the commander said. Pictured, armed Filipino policemen stand guard next to the wall of a prison facility

Most drug suspects in his precinct are shot by rookie cops who are either eager for the experience or nominated by their superiors, the commander said. Pictured, armed Filipino policemen stand guard next to the wall of a prison facility

Reuters reported last year that the watch lists were effectively hit lists, with many of those named ending up dead. Another Reuters investigation showed that police officers were killing 97 percent of the suspects they confront in violent buy-bust operations, the strongest evidence yet that the police were summarily executing suspects.

Officers also cooperate because they know the police force’s flawed disciplinary system, which fails to adequately investigate even a fraction of the killings, means there is little chance they will get caught, said the intelligence officer.

One sign of the drug war’s success, says the government, is that more than a million users and pushers have voluntarily registered with the police, a process known as ‘surrendering.’

But the commander said police are given a quota of ‘surrenderers,’ and fill it by using city ordinances to arrest men who are drunk or shirtless – a misdemeanor known as ‘half-naked’ – then forcing them to register as drug suspects.

Reuters learned of the intelligence officer’s 26-page report from him and interviewed two Catholic priests in Manila who said they had encouraged him to compile it. One of the priests said he edited the report; the other said he helped distribute it among a small group of clerics and human rights activists. Both are helping organize opposition to Duterte’s drug campaign.

The Church’s initial reluctance to criticize Duterte’s drug war was prompted by a desire to ‘give him a chance’ when he took office, said one of the priests. But the killings, along with the president’s overtures to Communists, made many in the Church feel their values were under attack, he said.

The intelligence officer said he hoped the report would be used as evidence at the International Criminal Court. In October, the Hague-based tribunal said it could prosecute suspects if the killings were ‘committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack against a civilian population.’

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4421430/Police-kill-rewards-staged-crime-scenes-Dutertes-drug-war.html#ixzz4ecS4W7LE
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Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte (L) talks to Philippine National Police (PNP) Director General Ronald Dela Rosa. AFP photo

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Philippine National Police chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa

Philippines: Human Rights Watch director Phelim Kline also said the numbers of fatalities in the drug war launched by President Rodrigo Duterte when he assumed office on June 30, 2016, are “appalling but predictable” since he (Duterte) vowed to “forget the laws on human rights.”

Image may contain: text

No automatic alt text available.

Philippines Policeman found tortured and strangled after some fellow police said he was involved in the illegal drug trade. Photo Credit Boy Cruz

http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2016/07/08/1600763/cop-linked-drugs-tortured-killed

 (December 23, 2016)

Discarded — The body of a dead Filipino girl looks like it has been put out with the trash…..
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 (Philippine Star, December 1, 2016)

 (Philippine Star, December 1, 2016)

“They are afraid the incident could cause President Duterte to declare martial law. I talked with some sultans and ulamas and elders here… and that’s what they have told me,” Ponyo said.

 (November 30, 2016)

 

Image may contain: 1 person, eyeglasses and beard

High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein. UN Photo, Jean-Marc Ferré

Summary executions of supposed drug dealers and other criminals have become a common occurence in recent weeks. The STAR/Joven Cagande, file

 (November 16, 2016)

 

 (August 10, 2016)

Davao City’s Ronald dela Rosa has been appointed to become the next chief of the Philippine National Police to lead President-elect Rodrigo Duterte’s planned crackdown on illegal drugs. Facebook/Dela Rosa
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Crime scene investigators examine a vehicle used by two drug suspects killed during an alleged shootout with officers along NIA Road in Quezon City on June 21, 2016. JOVEN CAGANDE/file
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President Rodrigo Duterte's crusade against drug users and dealers is controversial

 

Workers burying cadavers in various stages of decomposition in a mass grave in Manila, after health officials recovered the cadavers from Henry's Funeral Home. Picture: AFP / Noel Celis.

Workers burying cadavers in various stages of decomposition in a mass grave in Manila, after health officials recovered the cadavers from Henry’s Funeral Home. Picture: AFP / Noel Celis.Source:AFP

A worker arranging cadavers in various stages of decomposition at the morgue of Henry's Funeral Homes in Manila. Picture: AFP/ Noel Celis.

A worker arranging cadavers in various stages of decomposition at the morgue of Henry’s Funeral Homes in Manila. Picture: AFP/ Noel Celis.Source:AFP

Health officials closed Henry's Funeral Home after recovering at least 120 unclaimed and rotting cadavers in Manila. The city health department conducted a surprise raid after receiving complaints about a foul odour coming from the funeral parlour. Picture: AFP / Noel Celis.

Health officials closed Henry’s Funeral Home after recovering at least 120 unclaimed and rotting cadavers in Manila. The city health department conducted a surprise raid after receiving complaints about a foul odour coming from the funeral parlour. Picture: AFP / Noel Celis.Source:AFP

Workers carrying cadavers in various stages of decomposition at the morgue of Henry's Funeral Homes in Manila, October 2016. Picture: AFP / Noel Celis.

Workers carrying cadavers in various stages of decomposition at the morgue of Henry’s Funeral Homes in Manila, October 2016. Picture: AFP / Noel Celis.Source:AFP

Opinion: Philippine Lawyers say murder, extrajudicial killings, rape, extortion, illegal arrests should be investigated, prosecuted — Police should not be “death squads”

March 27, 2017

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Why does it feel as if he is waging a war against the people?

The Philippine Inquirer

President Duterte is wrong to promise immunity to law enforcers who abuse or exceed their authority, like those involved in “tokhang.”

There are standards and regulations that should be followed in police operations; these are codified to protect the citizens against the awesome powers of the state.  When law enforcers violate the law, when they commit crimes, they should be punished as everybody else. When law enforcers become criminals, they themselves are threats to public security.

Even the President, with his solemn oath to faithfully execute the laws of the land, is beholden by the same set of laws and ethics.

Image result for Philippine National Police, photos

Philippine Star photo

Allegations of murder, extrajudicial killings, rape, extortion, illegal arrests and other rights abuses and violations by the police must be seriously, fairly and timely investigated and prosecuted.

Mr. Duterte must not embolden erring and corrupt law enforcers into committing crimes, whether in his name or in the name of the state. It is morally reprehensible to condone organized brutality and criminality, and use the uniform as a shield against accountability. It is obstruction of justice and, in a sense, complicity, cultivating a mercenary tradition.

Mr. Duterte said he will wage a war against the illegal drugs trade. But measured by the number of dead and the magnitude of its toll, why does it feel as if he is waging a war against the people?

JULIAN F. OLIVA, adviser, MARIA KRISTINA C. CONTI, secretary general, National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers-NCR

Read more: http://opinion.inquirer.net/102756/war-vs-people#ixzz4cWrcsPVv
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Philippines: Vice President Speaks Out After President Duterte’s Number One Critic Jailed

February 24, 2017
Vice President Leni Robredo criticized the government for what she calls “political harassment” against Sen. Leila De Lima. File Photo

MANILA, Philippines — Vice President Leni Robredo on Friday decried what she called “political harassment” by the administration against Sen. Leila De Lima.

In a statement, Robredo said that De Lima’s arrest Friday was part of a political agenda and not a result of an “independent, unbiased” legal process.

Robredo said that De Lima’s political harassment began soon after she started an investigation into the extrajudicial killings that transpired in the wake of the administration’s anti-drugs campaign.

“The arrest of Senator Leila de Lima is the latest move in a persistent campaign of political harassment being waged against a duly-elected member of Congress,” the vice president said.

De Lima turned herself in to the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group led by Chief Superintendent Roel Obusan on Friday morning after spending the night at her office in the Senate. A Muntinlupa court issued a warrant for her arrest on drug charges Thursday afternoon.

Robredo said authorities used contradicting testimonies from “criminals”—testimony against her came from New Bilibid Prison inmates whom she allegedly collected money from for her senatorial campaign in 2016—and undermined due process to hasten the issuance of the arrest order against De Lima.

Although charges were filed by the Department of Justice, arrest warrants are issued by courts, which are part of a separate branch of the government.

Robredo invited the public to “religiously” follow and scrutinize De Lima’s case.

Robredo called on the public to continue fighting for the right to speak contrary views, which she said is the foundation of the country’s strength as a free and democratic nation.

“Our history as a nation is marred by instances where government officials use the processes of criminal justice to cow, silence, and eliminate critics,” the vice president said.

Robredo continued: “We cannot, and we must not, stand by and let this happen again. We must make sure that our government institutions remain uncorrupted and independent of each other, particularly when it comes to checks and balances in pursuit of accountability.”

LP senators: We fear for her life and security

De Lima’s Liberal Party colleagues at the Senate meanwhile said that they are worried for De Lima’s safety in government custody.

“We fear for Senator Leila’s life and security given what happened to Albuera Mayor [Rolando] Espinosa and Korean businessman Jee Ick-joo who were both killed in police-controlled facilities,” Senators Franklin Drilon, Francis Pangilinan and Bam Aquino said in a joint statement.

Espinosa was killed in November while police were serving a warrant to search his cell at a Leyte provincial jail. Espinosa, father of alleged drug lord Rolan “Kerwin” Espinosa, had been in police custody over drug and firearms charges. Police said he fired at them, forcing them to shoot back.

Jee Ick-joo, meanwhile, was abducted and killed in by rogue police officers under the guise of an anti-drug operation last October. PO3 Ricky Sta. Isabel, a suspect in the case, allegedly called Jee’s wife to demand ransom even though the businessman had already been killed.  Jee was killed in Camp Crame, the national police headquarters.

http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2017/02/24/1675329/robredo-decries-political-harassment-de-lima

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Leila de Lima, Critic of Duterte, Is Arrested in the Philippines

MANILA — A Philippine senator who had been the leading domestic critic of President Rodrigo Duterte and his bloody antidrug campaign was arrested Friday on charges that she took bribes from imprisoned drug traffickers.

The senator, Leila de Lima, has denied the charges, describing them as political persecution. A Philippine court ordered her arrest on Thursday, and she went home Thursday night to say goodbye to her family.

Speaking to journalists on Friday before she was led away, Ms. de Lima was combative. “These are all lies,” she said of the charges. “The truth will come out at the right time. If they think they can stop me from fighting these daily murders, they are wrong.”

Ms. de Lima has been a fierce opponent of Mr. Duterte’s crackdown on users and sellers of narcotics, under which thousands of people have been killed by the police or by vigilantes since Mr. Duterte took office in June. Last year, a Senate panel led by Ms. de Lima heard testimony from a professed hit man, Edgar Matobato, who said he belonged to a death squad that had been overseen by Mr. Duterte when Mr. Duterte was mayor of Davao City.

Soon after that testimony, Ms. de Lima was removed from her post as chairwoman of the Senate panel. Another committee, in the Philippine House of Representatives, soon began hearings at which imprisoned drug kingpins testified that they had given Ms. de Lima bribes through her driver and bodyguard, Ronnie Dayan. Mr. Dayan testified that he had collected the money on the senator’s behalf.

Embarrassing details of a romantic affair between Mr. Dayan and Ms. de Lima were also disclosed at the hearings, in what the senator called part of a campaign by the Duterte administration to harass and silence her.

The charges against Ms. de Lima were brought by the Philippine Justice Department, which is headed by Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II, a fraternity brother of Mr. Duterte who presided over the House hearings. The Justice Department says that Ms. de Lima used the drug money for her Senate campaign last year, and that the inmates who gave it to her received special privileges in return.

Source/Read the rest: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/23/world/asia/arrest-duterte-leila-de-lima.html?ribbon-ad-idx=5&rref=world/asia&module=Ribbon&version=context&region=Header&action=click&contentCollection=Asia%20Pacific&pgtype=article

Top Philippine drug war critic dodges arrest at Senate

February 23, 2017

AFP

© AFP / by Cecil MORELLA | Philippine Senator Leila De Lima fights back tears as she speaks to reporters in Manila, on February 23, 2017
MANILA (AFP) – An arrest warrant was issued Thursday for the highest-profile opponent of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s deadly war on drugs, but she dodged police and sought refuge in the Senate.

The planned arrest of Senator Leila de Lima outraged her supporters and human rights activists, who said the government had manufactured drug trafficking charges to silence her criticism of Duterte and intimidate others.

The 57-year-old lawyer, who has spent nearly a decade trying to link Duterte to death squads that have allegedly killed thousands of people, could be jailed for life if she is found guilty of drug trafficking.

“I have no plans of fleeing and I have no plans to go in hiding. I will face all these charges,” a tearful De Lima told reporters at the Senate in the early evening after a Manila court issued the arrest warrant.

De Lima then went to her home in another part of the capital after believing she had secured an agreement with authorities to surrender on Friday morning.

But, after police were seen on national television driving to her home to arrest her, De Lima quickly left and returned to the perceived safety of the Senate building.

She and her allies had previously said protocols dictated police should not arrest her in the Senate.

De Lima appealed late on Thursday night for police not to arrest her overnight and committed to surrendering on Friday.

“If they respect the Senate as an institution, they should not force an arrest tonight. That would really be a disrespect to the Senate. They should just wait for me outside tomorrow,” she told reporters at the Senate.

De Lima is accused of orchestrating a drug trafficking ring when she was justice secretary in the previous administration of Benigno Aquino.

But De Lima and her supporters insist she is innocent, and that Duterte wants to crush one of his most vocal and enduring critics.

De Lima this week branded Duterte a “sociopathic serial killer” as she called for ordinary Filipinos to stand up in opposition to his drug war, which has seen more than 6,500 people killed since he took office eight months ago.

– Political persecution –

De Lima’s Liberal Party, which ruled for six years under Aquino, voiced deep anger on Thursday at her imminent arrest.

“The Liberal Party reiterates that it condemns the political persecution of brave administration critic Sen. Leila De Lima,” it said in a statement.

“This arrest is purely political vendetta and has no place in (a) justice system that upholds the rule of law. This is condemnable. We reiterate that an arrest based on trumped-up charges is illegal.”

The party also said it feared for De Lima’s life once she was arrested, citing the killing by police of another politician, Rolando Espinosa, inside a jail cell in November last year after he was arrested on drug charges.

The National Bureau of Investigation said the police who raided the jail murdered him and that he was defenceless.

But Duterte said he chose to believe the police version that they were serving an arrest warrant on Espinosa inside the jail before dawn and the officers shot at him in self defence.

Duterte, 71, won the presidential election last year after promising during the campaign to eradicate drugs in society by killing tens of thousands of people.

He immediately launched the crackdown after taking office in June and police have reported killing 2,555 drug suspects since then, with about 4,000 other people murdered in unexplained circumstances.

Amnesty International has warned that police actions in the drug war may amount to crimes against humanity.

Amnesty said Thursday that, if De Lima was arrested, it would regard her as a prisoner of conscience.

“The arrest of de Lima is a blatant attempt by the Philippine government to silence criticism of President Duterte and divert attention away from serious human rights violations in the ‘war on drugs’,” it said.

by Cecil MORELLA

Philippines: Is a United Nations investigation next after testimony that President Duterte is a serial killer

February 21, 2017
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An emotional retired police officer Arthur Lascañas tells a news conference at the Philippine Senate in suburban Pasay city, south of Manila, Philippines, Monday, Feb. 20, 2017. Lascanas said President Rodrigo Duterte, when he was a city mayor, ordered and paid him and other members of a so-called liquidation squad to kill criminals and opponents, including a kidnapping suspect and his entire family and a critical radio commentator. AP/Bullit Marquez

MANILA, Philippines — The allegations of retiring police officer Arthur Lascañas should prompt an urgent United Nations investigation into the administration’s brutal war on drugs, a top human rights agency said.

In a statement on Monday, New York-based Human Rights Watch said Lascañas’ allegations heightened the urgent need for an independent probe into the deaths of more than 7,000 individuals in the drug war.

The group said the probe will uncover ultimately responsibility for those crimes.

“The disclosures also suggest possible motivations for the Duterte administration’s moves to launch a politically motivated prosecution of Senator Leila de Lima, who as chair of the Commission on Human Rights in 2009 launched the only official investigation into the Davao Death Squad killings,” HRW Deputy Asia Director Phelim Kine said.

On Monday, Lascañas appeared before the media to retract his previous denials that he was involved in the killing of scores of people under the orders of former Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, who is not Philippine president.

Lascañas said that the so-called Davao Death Squad exists, as he was a member of the group purportedly founded by Duterte in 1988.

Kine, meanwhile, repeated an earlier call to Philippine authorities to immediately drop the “political motivated charges” against De Lima.

READ: Human Rights Watch: Drop politically motivated charges vs De Lima

“The authorities should immediately drop all charges against Senator de Lima, cease their harassment of her and cooperate fully with a UN probe,” he said.

In late January, the HRW said the UN should lead an independent investigation into killings linked to  Duterte’s war on drugs.

 

Prior to that, UN’s human rights chief last December 2016 asked the Philippine authorities to investigate Duterte for murder after he claimed to have killed people in the past and to also look into the “shocking number of killings” under his brutal crackdown on illegal drugs. — Philstar.com file video taken in December 2016

http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2017/02/21/1674405/un-probe-dutertes-drug-war-urged-after-ex-cops-confession

Philippines: Are there really 4 million drug addicts? — U.S. Stops Aid Package for the Philippines due To Suspected Rule of Law, Human Rights Problems

December 16, 2016

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President Rodrigo Duterte stands amid a crowd of supporters during his meeting with the Filipino community in Cambodia at Sofitel Phnom Penh Phokeethra Hotel on Dec. 13, 2016. PPD/Toto Lozano

MANILA, Philippines — In his speeches, President Rodrigo Duterte has repeatedly claimed that there are 4 million drug addicts in the Philippines as he explains the rationale behind the war on drugs.

Philstar.com‘s NewsLab reported that there is scant evidence backing the president’s estimates that drug prevalence has increased from 3 million in 2014 to 4 million in 2016.

The Dangerous Drugs Board, a drug policy-making body under the Office of the President, has undertaken occasional nationwide surveys in partnership with educational institutions to come up with a scientific estimate of drug users in the country.

Duterte says there are 4 million drug “addicts,” without making a distinction between occasional users and those dependent on illegal narcotics.The DDB notes that there are differences between drug abuse, addiction and dependency.

Abuse is the continual use of a drug other than its intended purpose, which, the board said “can lead to drug dependence, a state of physical and psychological dependence or both on a dangerous drug.”

Drug dependency, meanwhile, develops “following the use of [a] substance on a periodic or continuous basis” and people who are dependent will experience withdrawal reactions when they stop using.

Drug addiction, on the other hand, “is a complex, and often chronic, brain disease” and manifests as “excessive drug craving, seeking, and use,” the DDB said on its website. “Addiction is caused by brain changes caused by constant drug use,” it also said.

The DDB’s figures, however, count drug “users” in general, and do not come close to the president’s estimates.

Based on the DDB’s numbers, there appears to have been a decrease in the overall number of drug users from 1999 to 2015. While the figure increased significantly in 2004, it made a sharp drop in 2008 and further in 2012 before increasing again in early 2016.

In his speech at the Ten Outstanding Young Men awarding ceremony on Tuesday, Duterte claimed that those so-called 4 million “addicts” will “contaminate another 10 million” in four to six years. Following his projection, there will be 14 million Filipinos addicted to drugs by 2020.

 

Citing DDB data, some vocal Duterte supporters on social media also noted that drug use did increase from 2012 to 2016 and said the president’s projection is plausible.

However, a projection based on merely two data points, in this case 2012 and 2016, is inadequate. Moreover, there is no constancy or pattern in official estimates of drug users since 1999 to project an uptrend in the years to come as the president and his social media supporters claimed.

Despite the contrast in the president’s and the DDB’s numbers, the country’s drug prevalence rate of 2.3 percent is still below the global average of 5.2 percent, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime told Philstar.com in September.

While drug use remains a social problem that needs to be addressed, given the country’s below-average drug prevalence rate, the Philippines is still better off than many countries in the world.

http://www.philstar.com/news-feature/2016/12/16/1654043/are-there-4-million-drug-addicts-philippines

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U.S. Halts Aid Package to Philippines Amid Drug Crackdown

MANILA — The United States said on Thursday that it had deferred giving economic aid to the Philippines because of concerns about the rule of law as the brutal campaign on drugs under President Rodrigo Duterte appears to show no signs of slowing down.

The United States Embassy in the Philippines said that the deferral did not preclude the country from receiving grants in the future.

The decision reflected “significant concerns around the rule of law and civil liberties in the Philippines,” said Molly Koscina, a spokeswoman for the embassy.

The Millennium Challenge Corporation, set up by the United States government to reduce poverty around the world, said in a statement on Wednesday that it had deferred a vote on renewing the funding. Neither government indicated the size of the grant, but officials said the figure was lower than the previous aid package, worth about $434 million.

The United States has been openly critical of the Philippines’ bloody crackdown on narcotics, in which over 2,000 people have been killed at the hands of the police since Mr. Duterte assumed office in June. An additional 3,500 killings remain unsolved, but about a third of those have been identified as drug-related.

In response to the criticism, Mr. Duterte has cursed President Obama and promised to scale back military cooperation with the United States, a longtime ally, while seeking to build closer ties with China and Russia.

The Millennium Challenge Corporation would continue “to monitor unfolding events,” to determine the eligibility of the Philippines, Ms. Koscina said. The agency’s board will next meet in March.

For a country to receive funding, it “must demonstrate a commitment to just and democratic governance, investments in its people and economic freedom,” according to the agency’s website.

The initial grant, approved in 2010, helped modernize the internal revenue bureau, expanded programs under the social welfare department intended to alleviate poverty and rehabilitated a major road network.

Ernesto M. Pernia, the Philippine socioeconomic planning secretary, said he was not worried about the decision, noting that the funding was much smaller than the initial aid package, which expired in May.

The grant was to be more of a sign of confidence than something having a real impact on the economy, he said, adding that he would “not lose sleep” over the deferral.

Mr. Duterte boasted this week that he had personally killed criminal suspects when he was mayor of Davao City, in the southern Philippines. Under his tenure, hundreds of people were killed by what rights groups say were government-linked death squads.

The president’s embrace of violence has shocked other countries and brought condemnation from human rights groups, but Mr. Duterte remains popular among a large segment of Filipinos weary of crime and enthusiastic about his pledge to rid the country of drug dealers.