Posts Tagged ‘drug war’

Philippines: Highlights from the Supreme Court oral arguments on the drug war

December 7, 2017
One of the fatalities, who has yet to be identified, was killed in an alleged shootout with police officers in Guiguinto, Bulacan on June 16. AP/Aaron Favila, file

MANILA, Philippines — The Supreme Court held three days of hearings, through oral arguments, on the petitions challenging the constitutionality of the drug war on November 21 and 28, and on December 4.

Two groups of petitioners are seeking a protection order from the high court over the ruthless killings of their loved ones and of people in their community.

Aside from the writ of amparo against the police, petitioners are also asking for the issuance of a temporary restraining order on the PNP’s drug war operations.


Aileen Almora asked the SC to stop extrajudicial killings that critics attribute to the nationwide war on drugs. Almora’s brother, Ryan Dave, was killed in an anti-dug operation.

Rowena Appari’s son was killed in a home invasion. Jefferson Soriano was shot several times, but survived.

They were represented by lawyer Chel Diokno of the Free Legal Assistance Group.

A second petition was filed by members of a religious order in San Andres Bukid, Manila, where 38 petitioners claim the existence of “systemic violence”.

They were represented by Center for International Law.

Lawyer Rommel Butuyan faced the high court for the oral arguments.


The respondents in the petition are:

  • Director General Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa, Chief of the Philippine National Police
  • Undersecretary Eduardo Año of the Department of Interior and Local Government
  • Director General Aaron Aquino of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency
  • Superintendent Joel Coronel, chief of the Manila Police District
  • Other members of the PNP

Solicitor General Jose Calida represented the petitioners.

In his comment filed before the SC began oral arguments, the government’s chief legal counsel said that the drug war is being “emasculated and undermined” by petitions of the families who lost their loved ones in the violent police operations.

He reiterated this statement before the high court and claimed the petitions are destabilization acts against the Duterte administration.

The court summoned Dela Rosa, Aquino, and Undersecretary Catalino Uy, as well as the other members of the police force and PDEA for the second day of the oral arguments

Central to the petitions are PNP CMC 2016-16 for the Project Double Barrel and the DILG memorandum circular 2017-112 on Masa Masid.

Here are some of the issues debated by the justices, petitioners and respondents:

Barangay list

Under the DILG “Masa Masid,” a list of suspected drug users and sellers is drawn up from names put in a community drop box.

Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio raised: “The barangay chair can include his political enemies there?”

Butuyan said yes, since the list is submitted in confidence. He added that the residents would not know, except for some instances, about their names being included in the list.

Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno also quizzed Calida on the list.

She asked: “Is the list subject to habeas data petition? If a person feels he is on the list, can he file a habeas data petition?”

The writ of habeas data is a remedy for any individual “whose right to privacy in life, liberty or security is violated or threatened by an unlawful act of any official or employee, or of a private individual or entity engaged in the gathering, collecting or storing of data or information.”

Calida said that the government “will invoke national security,” adding “there are certain matters like top secrets that cannot be divulged.”

What does ‘neutralize’ in the memorandum mean?

The Execution section of the PNP memo states: “The PNP intends to equally address illegal drug problems in the barangays and at the same time pursue the neutralization of illegal drug personalities.”

Diokno raised before the justices: “What we question is why they have to add the word negation… which has no counterpart in law.”

“By its language, it can be construed by the officers on the ground to authorize killing that is not allowed in our system,” Diokno also said.

Associate Justice Francis Jardeleza said: “You have a situation where a government circular contains vague terms which can be taken to mean as license to kill, and you are saying that is unconstitutional, yes?”
Diokno answered in affirmative.

Dela Rosa, during the third hearing of the consolidated petitions, told justices that he has never ordered his officers to kill anyone.

Verbal orders?

Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio started his interpellation of Calida on the third day of the hearing, remarking on several pronouncements by President Rodrigo Duterte telling the police to go ahead and kill drugs suspects. The justice asked if these orders, delivered in Duterte’s trademark freestyle speeches, are guidance for the police.

Calida replied that he has no personal knowledge of the pronouncements and is not in place to answer the question.

Associate Justice Marvic Leonen, while grilling Calida, pointed out that the the memorandum explicitly states that it emanated from a verbal order from Duterte.

Listed as the first item of reference in the PNP memorandum is: “Pronouncement of President Rodrigo Duterte to get rid of illegal drugs during the first six months of his term.”

Street peddlers vs. drug lord

Section 3 of the PNP memorandum circular on Oplan Double Barrel explicitly states that there are three transnational drug organizations operating in the Philippines.

“Chinese or Filipino-Chinese drug syndicates dominate the drug market in the country,” the PNP memorandum stated. It added that these Chinese syndicates “facilitate production, manufacturing and bulk smuggling of dangerous drugs in the country.”

Carpio, in his interpellation of Calida, asked if there have been Chinese or Filipino Chinese drug lords neutralized by the police since July 1, 2016.

Calida said 418 Chinese suspects have been arrested, stressing none have been killed.

Violations of rights

PNP’s Operation Double Barrel pertains to two projects: Oplan Tokhang (house-to-house visitation) and Project High-Value Targets.

The justices asked the petitioners if the execution of the two orders violates the Bill of Rights.

Carpio asked Diokno: “When the police conduct case build up just because you refuse entry, that violates the right to privacy because you may refuse entry, correct?”

Diokno answered in the affirmative.

Leonen, meanwhile stated that the Oplan Tokhang setup violates the right against self-incrimination, right to custodial interrogation, and the right to domicile.

He also said that if threats are given to those who refuse entry to their residence, it may be violation of the anti-torture law.

Calida, however, stressed that the police, during visitation, only stay at the gates.

He added that if the residents refuse entry, the police will move to the next door.

Death investigation

Carpio ordered the solicitor general to submit the records of the 3,800 “deaths under investigation” that the police are looking into.

He asked the following information to be submitted with the memoranda:

  • gender, ages of the killed
  • place and time of operations
  • name of police leader and members who participated
  • pre-operations plan
  • post-operation report
  • whether search warrants or arrest warrants were issued
  • names of the representatives issued

The Court allowed the parties to submit their respective memoranda 60 days from December 5, the last day of the hearings.

After the parties submit their memoranda, the case is deemed submitted for decision.


Philippines President Duterte Puts Philippine National National Police (PNP) Back Into Drug War — They have a human rights app now — Returning to dead body counts?

December 6, 2017
The Catholic Church sees the President’s order as a ‘bad move,’ but presidential spokesperson Harry Roque says the PDEA remains the lead agency in the war on drugs, with the police only providing active support
 / 07:28 AM December 06, 2017
PNP, other law enforcement agencies ordered to help PDEA in drug war

Saying there was a “notable resurgence in illegal drugs,” President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday ordered the Philippine National Police to actively support the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) in the war on drugs.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said the PDEA remained the lead agency in the war on drugs.

The PNP, the military and other law enforcement agencies would only provide “active support” to the PDEA, Roque told a news briefing.

Mr. Duterte’s order on Tuesday, he said, “supersedes the earlier memorandum that designated the PDEA as the sole agency that will deal with the entire illegal drug operations.”

Roque said that if the PNP wanted to revive “Oplan Tokhang,” it should coordinate first with the PDEA.

“Well, it’s very clear the PDEA is the lead so if Tokhang will be implemented by the PNP, I would suppose there would have to be coordination with the PDEA,” he said.

“If they want to resume Tokhang, they need to confer with the PDEA on how to implement it. The PDEA must be consulted and the PDEA must not be deprived of its role in the implementation of the Dangerous Drugs Act,” Roque added.

Thousands of people have been killed in the PNP campaign, drawing expressions of concern from the United States, European Union, United Nations and international groups about human rights violations in the Philippines.

Mr. Duterte badmouthed them all, accusing them of meddling in Philippine internal affairs.

On Oct. 11, Mr. Duterte designated the PDEA as the “sole agency” in the antidrug campaign after a series of killings of teenagers in northern Metro Manila, which was blamed for the drop in the President’s public approval ratings.

It was the second time that the PNP was stripped of its lead role in the drug war.


In January, the President ordered the PNP to suspend its antidrug operations after narcotics police allegedly kidnapped South Korean businessman Jee Ick-joo and killed him inside Camp Crame, where the PNP headquarters is located.

The President allowed the PNP to resume the war on drugs after more than a month due to reports that the country’s drug problem had worsened.

This time around, Mr. Duterte said the PDEA had made significant strides but there was a resurgent drug problem and crimes related to it.

“PDEA has made significant strides in the government anti-illegal drug campaign since Oct. 11, 2017, with only one drug suspect killed in the course of its anti-illegal drug operations,” the President said.

“[However, it] has been seriously hampered in performing its huge mandate by the lack of resources, specifically agents and operatives, who can penetrate drug-infected areas down to the municipal and barangay levels,” he said.

The President noted that the PDEA had only about 2,000 personnel to deal with the drug problem in the entire country.

“There is a clamor from the public to restore to the PNP and all other law enforcement agencies the responsibility of providing active support to PDEA in the conduct of anti-illegal drug operations,” he said.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque INQUIRER PHOTO/JOAN BONDOC

The President directed the PDEA to submit a monthly report on the progress of the campaign while the Dangerous Drugs Board would remain the policymaking and strategy-formulating body.

“So now, the President clearly wanted the PDEA to take the lead but it wants to avail [itself] of the manpower resources of all other agencies of government, not just the PNP,” Roque said.

‘Bad move’

The Catholic Church warned that Mr. Duterte’s allowing the police to rejoin the war on drugs was a “bad move.”

Speaking on Church-run Radio Veritas, Marbel Bishop Dinualdo Gutierrez called the faithful to pray.

Novaliches Bishop Emeritus Teodoro Bacani said Mr. Duterte’s decision raised questions, especially after the PDEA had achieved gains and implemented reforms in the war on drugs.

“After all, the President said 40 percent of the PNP was corrupt and he replaced them twice. There have not been significant reforms. He is interested in dead body counts,” Bacani said.

Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo said the decision only showed Mr. Duterte’s fickle-mindedness.

“Didn’t he see that the PNP was already a failure? He did not give the PDEA a chance to prove itself. He did not even give it time,” Pabillo said. —With a report from Tina G. Santos

Read more:
Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook



Image result for duterte, dela rosa, together, photos

President Rodrigo Duterte and PNP chief Ronald dela Rosa. PhilStar photo

Jee Ick-joo, a South Korean businessman in the Philippines, was abducted by police from his home in October. It took his wife, Choi Kyung-jin, three months to learn his fate. Video: Eva Tam; photo: Jes Aznar for The Wall Street Journal

The Philippines: when the police kill children

December 2, 2017

By Ted Regencia

Al Jazeera

One news report says death toll in the war on drugs could be as high as 14,000 [Ezra Acayan/Al Jazeera]

One news report says death toll in the war on drugs could be as high as 14,000 [Ezra Acayan/Al Jazeera]


Manila, Philippines – His parents named him Reynaldo de Guzman, but everyone knew him as Kulot (Curly) on account of his hair.

Kulot grew up in Anak Pawis (Child of Sweat), a district by the banks of Manila’s largest floodway.

Here, homes made of cardboard and bamboo vie for space with partially constructed concrete apartments.

During the rainy season, the debris-filled floodway overflows, leaving the neighbourhood’s houses under water.

But just a drizzle is enough to stir the stench from the nearby sewers.

Kulot lived with his parents and two of his four siblings in a one-room home where tattered tarp and chicken wire covered the only window.

On school days, he and his younger brother would rise before the sun to begin their two-kilometre walk to school, a place where classmates often teased him for being older and bigger than them and where the brothers rarely had money for lunch.

After school, Kulot would earn less than a cent and a free meal for hauling buckets of fish for sale around the neighbourhood.

On the weekends, he mixed cement or loaded sand and gravel at nearby building sites, handing over almost all his earnings to his mother.

Neighbours remember him as everyone’s favourite errand boy.

Then, in mid-August, Kulot went missing. He was 14 years old.

WATCH: Another child dies in Duterte’s war on drugs

Eighteen days later, his body was found 100km from his home, in a creek called Kinamatayang Kabayo (A Horse’s Deathplace).

His face was wrapped in plastic and bound with tape.

Police say his body bore signs of torture and at least 26 stab wounds, many inflicted after he died, some so deep they pierced his heart and lungs.

At the time of his death, the Philippines was already reeling from the murders of several teenagers suspected to have been killed as part of the government’s war on drugs.

According to a Global Post report, as many as 14,000 people may have been killed as part of President Rodrigo Duterte‘s drug war since he took office in 2016.

The Duterte administration has disputed these numbers, claiming that 3,451 “drug personalities” were killed during police operations from June 30, 2016, to July 26, 2017.

It describes more than 2,000 other cases as drug-related homicides by unknown assailants, while at least 8,200 other killings remain “under investigation”.

Of that number, dozens are believed to be teenagers or children.

Human rights organisations, activists and opposition politicians say Duterte has given the police a free pass to sidestep the law and carry out killings without fear of prosecution – allegations his administration and the country’s police force have repeatedly denied.

Eighteen days after he went missing, Kulot’s body was found 100km north of Manila [Ezra Acayan/Al Jazeera]

One neighbourhood, two dead boys

Kulot’s relatives and neighbours insist he was not involved in drugs.

The news of his death dealt a second blow to a neighbourhood that was already in mourning.

The day before Kulot’s body was found, the community had buried 19-year-old Carl Angelo Arnaiz, a friend of Kulot’s and the last person he was seen with.

The police say the honour student was killed in a shoot-out after he tried to rob a taxi driver. But his death was later classified as murder by government prosecutors.

Carl and Kulot went missing on the same mid-August night the police launched a major drug war operation across Manila and its suburbs. It left at least 80 people dead in the space of three days.

Relatives and neighbours say the two friends went out for midnight snacks, but never returned.

Carl Arnaiz, a 19-year-old honour student, was among the dozens of children and teenagers killed in Duterte’s drug war [Ezra Acayan/Al Jazeera]

At around the time Carl and Kulot disappeared, the attention of the country’s news media was on the death of another teenager, 17-year-old Kian delos Santos, who was killed during a drug raid in the Manila district of Caloocan.

A closed-circuit camera captured the moments before Kian’s death.

In the grainy video, Kian was shown being dragged by officers, contradicting a police report that claimed the Grade 11 student had tried to engage them in a gunfight.

Kian’s bullet-ridden body was later found in a pigsty. When forensic evidence revealed that he had been executed while on the ground, a nationwide outcry ensued.

Murder charges were filed against three police officers.

As the news of what had happened to Kian emerged, Carl’s family grew ever more frantic in their search for him.

They pleaded for help on social media and his mother, who was working as a housekeeper in Dubai, rushed home to join the search.

Ten days after he disappeared, his body was found in a morgue in Caloocan. He had five bullet wounds to his chest and stomach.

Questions began to circulate within the community and the media. How had his body ended up 20km away from his home, they asked. Were the Caloocan police involved?

When two versions of a police report emerged about the attempted robbery police allege Carl was involved in, they seemed to raise more questions than they answered.

After he went missing, Carl Arnaiz’s mother, Eva, returned from Dubai to join the search for her son [Ezra Acayan/Al Jazeera]

The taxi driver, Tomas Bagcal, who had been in hiding for 16 days, came forward to say the police had forced him to sign the reports.

He also said that, contrary to what was stated in them, Carl had used a knife, not a gun, during the attempted robbery, and that he wasn’t alone – Kulot was with him.

The police had apprehended Carl and Kulot, he said, and both were alive when they were taken to police headquarters in Caloocan. He had followed the police car to the station, he explained.

Bagcal later told a Senate hearing that after police interrogated Carl and Kulot at the station, the two boys were taken to an unlit area beside a Caloocan highway, where two police officers shot and killed Carl, who was handcuffed and kneeling on the ground – testimony that was corroborated by two other witnesses.

Forensic experts from the public prosecutor’s office concluded that Carl’s death was an “intentional killing”. Erwin Erfe, a spokesman for the office, told reporters that Carl was “handcuffed, beaten up, dragged and then shot to death”.

He was bruised, had two black eyes and marks from handcuffs on his wrists, Erfe added.

In a separate interview, Erfe told Manila-based news website Rappler that the gun and sachets of crystal meth and cannabis found next to Carl “could have been easily planted” and that the supposed crime scene, where Carl’s body was found, appeared staged.

Contrary to two differing police reports, prosecutors said Carl Arnaiz was “handcuffed, beaten up, dragged and then shot to death”[Ezra Acayan/Al Jazeera]

A funeral

On a rainy Tuesday morning, more than 100 people gathered for Carl’s funeral.

After the mass, the priest, Norman Cordova Balboa, explained how seeing Carl’s body had reminded him of his own brother, who was killed by a soldier in 1994 when he was 14 years old.

His mother had died “with a broken heart”, he added, without ever getting justice for her son.

Outside the church, Carl’s former classmates at the state university shouted slogans against the war on drugs.

The following day, Carl’s grandmother, Norma Magat, struggled to reconcile what she knew of her grandson with the police allegations.

Slouching on a single bed in the corner of the family’s small living room, she pointed out bags of crisps, cans of sardines, packets of biscuits and bottles of shampoo arranged on a makeshift counter in one corner of the room, their prices listed in Carl’s neat handwriting beside his academic medals and certificates.

Carl had opened the small store, known locally as sari-sari (sundry), after he dropped out of university suffering from depression.

He did not want his family to have to depend solely on his mother’s remittances from Dubai, his grandmother explained, and dreamed of her being able to return.

When she did it was to search for her missing son.

Why would he need to sell such things if he was dealing drugs, his grandmother asked, perplexed.

University students protest against the country’s drug war during Carl’s funeral [Ezra Acayan/Al Jazeera

The body in the creek

The day after Carl’s burial, residents of Anak Pawis learned that Kulot’s body had been found.

A woman had discovered it floating in the creek in Nueva Ecija, 100km north of Manila, and alerted police.

The morgue contacted Queen Chellsy Magual, a neighbour of Kulot’s family who had posted her mobile number on Facebook during the search.

She couldn’t tell whether the disfigured boy in the grainy photos the morgue sent her was Kulot, so she showed his family.

Kulot’s parents rushed to the morgue in Nueva Ecija.

According to news reports, Kulot’s father, Eduardo, and his mother, Lina, identified their son from a birthmark on his leg.

But, unable to afford a coffin, they couldn’t immediately bring him back to Manila with them.

Kulot’s older brother, 17-year-old Edmundo, recalled seeing the pictures of his brother’s body and of refusing to believe it was him until he saw the remains for himself.

Where the sky weeps

Kulot’s body was found 100km north of Manila [Ezra Acayan/Al Jazeera]

So for the second time within a week, the village hall at Anak Pawis was turned into a funeral room.

On top of Kulot’s coffin were two pictures of him emblazoned with the word, “MISSING”.

The first came from his school ID, the second from the mobile phone of the neighbourhood fish vendor who Kulot would work for in the evenings.

His family had no other pictures of him.

Nearby were two of Kulot’s baseball caps, a bottle of his favourite energy drink and three chicks, based on the belief that the hatchlings would eat away at the murderer’s conscience and bring the family justice.

For six nights, Kulot’s brothers stayed up to watch over him, taking turns to nap on a piece of cardboard on the floor beside the coffin.

Outside, under a tarpaulin tent, neighbours played cards and drank coffee as they kept vigil.

The rain came and went, prompting one to declare “even the sky is weeping for Kulot” as others doubted that the fifth-grader known for working so hard would ever conspire to commit a crime.

Murders in Manila [Ezra Acayan/Al Jazeera]

‘Two systems of justice’

As outrage was brewing over Kulot’s death and that of other teenagers, the halls of the Philippine Congress were abuzz over allegations linking President Duterte’s son, 42-year-old Paolo, to the attempted smuggling of $125m worth of drugs from China.

Antonio Trillanes, an opposition senator, accused the president’s son of being a member of a Chinese criminal syndicate.

Paolo, vice mayor of the family’s political heartland Davao City has denounced the allegations as “baseless”.

Critics said the drug-smuggling investigation showed there are separate justice systems for the rich and the poor.

WATCH: Duterte’s son questioned over illegal drug smuggling

On the day before Kulot’s funeral, however, tensions erupted at the wake when authorities tried to reclaim his body for further “evaluation”.

Police claimed the DNA test conducted on Kulot and his parents did not match.

Already in despair over his son’s death, Kulot’s father, Eduardo Sr lashed out at the police officers, telling them to back off, saying no one could take away his son from him.

Eduardo Sr’s drooping eyes could not even conceal his anger, according to video clips posted on news sites.

He insisted the burial will proceed the next day.

The public attorney representing the family also fumed, telling reporters the DNA testing the police conducted was not even authorised.

Persida Acosta said it is standard operating procedure for a lawyer to be present if DNA testing is administered.

No other family came forward to claim the body, but Kulot’s other family members and neighbours were still left confused at the police response, despite the insistence of Kulot’s parents that it is him.

Kulot’s eldest brother, 22-year old Royette, and his brother’s wife Grace began to doubt, telling Al Jazeera there was a mix-up, and that the boy inside the coffin was not Kulot, as the cadaver is “too short”.

Kulot’s hair colour also looked different, and he had an ear piercing, said another brother, Edgardo, 19, who had not seen him in months.

The three were huddled next to Kulot’s coffin as they chatted.

‘Our flesh and blood’

A  major Philippine newspaper criticised the police for denying Kulot’s family a “dignified burial” for their son [Ezra Acayan/Al Jazeera]

Amid a new cloud of doubt over Kulot’s identity, the morning of his burial came.

Security personnel briefly ushered his parents to the village hall to take another look at their son.

Authorities had taken custody of the parents without giving an explanation.

Kulot’s mother, Lina, bursts into muffled tears as she runs her right hand on the glass covering of Kulot’s coffin.

She wiped away her tears with her orange shawl.

She had been sleepless for days since her son had disappeared, and on the day of the funeral, she could hardly walk, and was helped by two elderly female community volunteers.

Unlike Carl’s funeral, there was no procession for Kulot.

Special police assigned to the family did not explain the haste, and avoided questions by the media.

After the family placed Kulot’s coffin in the hearse, the vehicle, the police car escorts, and the rest of the funeral convoy sped through traffic amid the blare of sirens.

Kulot’s parents and siblings were all placed in one police van. A convoy of reporters also followed hurriedly.

Heavily armed police officers kept close watch on Kulot’s parents.

Wearing identical white shirts and black pants, Kulot’s brothers concealed their faces in masks, as they try to avoid reporters’ cameras.

Kulot’s youngest brother and classmate, Eduardo Jr, covered his head with an oversized towel.

As the priest recited the final blessings, Eduardo Jr broke down in tears. Kulot’s brother Royette was carrying his baby, as he tried to console his wife Grace

One by one, family members and friends, as well as the officiating priest, sprinkled holy water on Kulot’s coffin. A gaggle of reporters surrounded the family.

Police claimed the DNA test conducted on Kulot and his parents didn’t match [Ezra Acayan/Al Jazeera]

As Kulot’s family bid their final goodbyes at the cemetery, police and five civilian volunteers of a pro-government anti-crime group, took aside again his parents, and handed them Kulot’s two photos earlier placed in the coffin.

Whispered remarks were exchanged, before Kulot’s father, Eduardo Sr, said in Filipino: “That’s it. Let’s go ahead.”

Family members then threw flower petals into Kulot’s grave, before a gravedigger covered it with cement.

There was no stone tablet to mark Kulot’s grave, so the grave-digger wrote in the fresh cement R DE GUZMAN.

Asked by broadcast reporters what he thought of the attempt by police to reclaim Kulot’s body, Eduardo Sr said: “That’s our son, and he is our flesh and blood. We made him. He is ours.”

Commenting on the police handling of Kulot’s case, the country’s leading newspaper, the Philippine Daily Inquirer, did not mince words in a comment: The country’s law enforcers “acted dishonourably” towards Kulot’s family, and “denied” the victim “a dignified burial by continuing to question his identity”.

Since Kulot’s burial, prosecutors have charged two police officers in Caloocan and the taxi driver for double murder.

Prosecutors said they included Bagcal, the taxi driver, as an accessory to the murder because of his conflicting testimonies to police, media and government attorneys.

Duterte has also ordered the removal and retraining of all Caloocan police force, and has decided to pull out the police as the main agency in the anti-drug war.

Two police officers and a taxi driver were charged with double murder over the deaths of Carl and Kulot [Ezra Acayan/Al Jazeera]

But the killings have not stopped.

In one incident in late October, a pregnant 15-year-old and her unborn baby were killed in what police said was an “armed encounter” that targeted the girl’s boyfriend.

In another incident on November 14, a 17-year old senior high school student at the University of Makati in Manila was shot and killed by unidentified assailants, just as Duterte was hosting a summit of Asian and world leaders in Manila.

On the same day, it was also reported that a fire mysteriously hit the Caloocan police station, destroying parts of the first floor of the building, where case files and evidence were kept.

“The killings are still happening, but the accountability of those who were ordered to kill has not been made possible,” Wilnor Papa, an Amnesty International spokesman, said in Manila.

The appeal of Amnesty and other human rights groups to visiting world leaders, including US President Donald Trump, to publicly confront Duterte about the killings also fell on deaf ears.

In Anak Pawi, Joven Tare, the neighbourhood’s fish vendor, was back in the street with fresh catch to sell.

With a family to feed, there was no stopping his business, despite the death of his assistant, Kulot.

He recalled how Kulot was always eager to help, even though he often needed instruction what to do next.

“By this time Kulot would have been busy helping me haul the fish and other seafood from the icebox,” he told Al Jazeera, while slicing a piece of milkfish for a customer.

Three others were milling around waiting for their turn to buy.

“But Kulot is gone now.”

WATCH: Philippine police ‘dumping bodies’ of drug war victims (2:39)



Ted Regencia


Image result for duterte, dela rosa, together, photos

President Rodrigo Duterte and PNP chief Ronald dela Rosa. PhilStar photo

Jee Ick-joo, a South Korean businessman in the Philippines, was abducted by police from his home in October. It took his wife, Choi Kyung-jin, three months to learn his fate. Video: Eva Tam; photo: Jes Aznar for The Wall Street Journal

Philippines, US agree to boost bilateral ties in human rights, other areas

December 2, 2017
On Sunday, President Rodrigo Duterte said US President Donald Trump . The STAR/Krizjohn Rosales 

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines and the United States have reaffirmed their commitment in various areas, including human rights, which had been a sore point in the two countries’ ties.

“The U.S. and Philippine delegations emphasized the importance of the rule of law, human rights, and fundamental freedoms,” read a joint press statement issued following the two nations’ seventh Bilateral Strategic Dialogue from Nov. 30 to Dec. 1, 2017 held in Washington.

“The United States and the Philippines reaffirmed the importance of regular high-level consultations,” the statement also said.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte is facing strong criticisms for his brutal drug war, which has taken the lives of thousands of suspected small-time drug dealers, most of whom are from the urban poor.

The maverick Duterte earlier sparked diplomatic alarm for announcing Manila’s “separation” from its century-old alliance with Washington after former US President Barack Obama denounced the deadly crackdown.

He also sought to realign his country’s diplomatic and military alliance toward China and Russia, Washington’s strategic rivals.

Headlines ( Article MRec ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1

Ties between the two countries’ later improved upon US President Donald Trump’s election victory. In a telephone conversation last April, Trump had told his Philippine counterpart he was doing an “unbelievable job on the drug problem.”

RELATED: Resuming rebuke of Obama, Duterte calls him ‘black, arrogant’ | Duterte: No feud with US, only with some of its officials

Ahead of the two firebrand leader’s meeting in November, several US lawmakers had urged Trump to confront Duterte about the mounting fatalities in Manila’s drug war.

But according to Malacañang, Trump—in a dramatic turnaround from past practice by American presidents to press foreign leaders about allegations of human rights violations—avoided the sensitive topic.

Meanwhile, the White House said human rights “briefly came up in the context of the Philippines’ flight against illegal drugs,” a stark contrast to the Palace’s statement.

Other areas

Aside from human rights, senior officials from Manila and Washington also discussed a wide variety of issues of mutual interest, with both sides reaffirming their partnership in maritime security, humanitarian assistance and disaster response.

They also tackled how the two countries can deepen ties in cybersecurity, countering transnational drug trafficking and terrorism, improving drug prevention and treatment services, as well as combating wildlife trafficking and illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing.

In terms of boosting extensive economic relationship between the two countries, representatives from the US and the Philippines noted the “substantive discussions” on cooperating in areas such as science and technology, agriculture and fisheries, and health and environment.

They likewise welcomed the bilateral Trade and Investment Framework Agreement discussions held on November 29, and “look forward to more robust discussions on ways to expand free, fair and reciprocal bilateral trade, including through exploring a potential Free Trade Agreement.”

Both countries also highlighted regional security challenges, particularly North Korea’s “unlawful ballistic missile and nuclear programs” and the South China Sea dispute.

At length, the US welcomed the Philippines’ offer to host the next Bilateral Strategic Dialogue in Manila in 2018.

Philippine Government Accuses U.N. Special Rapporteurs of “Concocting Falsehoods” In Duterte’s War on Drugs

November 24, 2017
Harry Roque, a spokesperson for President Rodrigo Duterte’s office, slammed the stinging statement of United Nations rapporteurs on the country’s drug war. PPD/Albert Alcain, File

MANILA, Philippines — The presidential palace on Friday slammed United Nations human rights officials for their criticisms of the government’s ferocious campaign against illegal drugs, saying that the Philippines would not allow itself to be bullied by experts “concocting falsehoods.”

UN special rapporteurs on Thursday issued a stinging statement urging on the Philippine government to end drug-related deaths spawned by President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs and bring the perpetrators of the killings to justice.

One of those who issued the joint statement was Agnest Callamard, the body’s rapporteur on extrajudicial killings, who had been threatened by the foul-mouthed Duterte with bodily harm should they cross paths with each other. Joining Callamard were Michel Forst (special rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders) and Diego García-Sayán (special rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers).

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, eyeglasses and closeup

 Agnes Callamard, U.N. special rapporteur on extrajudicial executions.

The rapporteurs claimed that many of the killings appeared to have been committed by state agents, an indication of a climate of official and institutional impunity.

However, the comments clearly did not sit well with the government of the tough-talking Duterte who in the past took criticisms of his policy as personal affronts and lashed at critics with invectives and tirades.

Harry Roque, a spokesman for Duterte’s office, decried the UN officials for making “negative assumptions” on the Philippines despite Manila’s supposed explanations to the contrary.

“Even as we continue to respect the UN Special Procedures mechanism,” Roque said, “we will not allow these biased individuals parading themselves as human rights experts to abuse such mechanism to bully States by concocting falsehoods.”

Roque, a lawyer and Duterte’s concurrent adviser on human rights, reiterated the government’s refrain that it was not tolerating extralegal and vigilante-style killings as well as rights abuses.

He claimed that this resolve was demonstrated when the entire city police force of Caloocan, a city north of Manila, was relieved from their posts following allegations that some of them killed teenagers suspected of involvement in crime and drugs.

“We believe that accountability is an indispensable part of good governance,” Roque said, adding that Duterte had always emphasized the importance of following rule of law and respecting human rights.

On Thursday, Roque told Callamard not to come uninvited to the Philippines after she came to the country in May to attend a two-day drug policy forum at the University of the Philippines where she delivered the keynote address.

READPalace warns Callamard: Don’t come uninvited

Though Callamard was not invited by the Philippine government, her visit in May was because of the invitation of a lawyers’ group for the event and was not on her capacity as a UN official.

Aside from threatening to slap Callamard, the tough-talking leader also challenged the rapporteur to a debate as a condition for allowing her visit to the Philippines. The UN official declined, reasoning that this was not in the world body’s terms of reference for such visits.

Philippine anti-drug agency chief vows ‘rule of law’

November 23, 2017
    • 23 November 2017
Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) Director General Aaron AquinoImage copyright EPA
Aaron Aquino is the newly appointed chief of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency

The new chief of the Philippines’ anti-drug agency has promised a fresh approach to the controversial war on drugs, “based on the rule of law”.

Aaron Aquino said that since he took over in August, only one suspect had been killed in 1,341 operations.

Thousands have died in the anti-drug campaign since it was launched by President Rodrigo Duterte in 2016.

Rights groups say Mr Duterte has sanctioned extrajudicial killings by vigilantes and by police.

In October 2017, Mr Duterte ordered that the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) take over from the police as the sole agency in charge of the war on illegal drugs,

Mr Duterte and the Philippine National Police (PNP) claim there have been no unlawful extrajudicial killings by officers under the current government, and say any suspects killed by officers were resisting arrest.

But when asked by the BBC why he thought the PNP had been removed from leading anti-drugs operations, Mr Aquino said: “The PNP were removed from this war on drugs precisely because there are some issues against them.

“There are issues on some abuses, the so-called extrajudicial killings.”

According to police figures, 3,967 people were killed in the force’s anti-drug campaign between June 2016 and 25 October this year.

Rights groups estimate that thousands more have been killed by vigilante gunmen, and accuse the police of supporting the vigilantes.

The latest decision by the president followed a series of controversial killings over the summer, including that of 17-year-old Kian Delos Santos.

The death of the student during a police anti-drug operation in August sparked protests outside the President’s palace.

Greater transparency

Mr Aquino said his agents would wear body cameras to film their operations, to prove they are abiding by the law.

“We want our operations to be transparent,” he said. “I told [agents] to ask the media to join in on the operations so they will see everything from the very start of the operations to the end.”

The PDEA say they have arrested more than 400 people over the past month and seized around $1m (£754,400) worth of illegal drugs.

Picture of Aaron Aquino at a drug raid
Mr Aquino at a recent drug raid destroying equipment used to cook methamphetamine

Despite the criticism levelled at the police, Mr Aquino said he would continue to seek the assistance of the PNP during “high level” operations.

He said he wished that the drug war would eventually handed back to the police, because of budget and staffing constraints affecting his agency.

The PDEA has around 2,000 officers compared with the country’s 165,000-strong police force.

This month, President Duterte indicated that he would consider reappointing the PNP to lead the war on drugs if there were no improvements on drug addiction levels in the Philippines within six months.

He said: “If things get worse again, I will say to these apes: ‘Go back to this job. You solve this problem of ours.'”

Recalled from retirement

Mr Aquino said that the president had personally said nothing to him before announcing his agency would take the lead on the drug war. He found out from the news.

“I just saw the president telling me, or telling the public that from now on… that he will let the PDEA be the sole agency in charge of the war on drugs,” he said.

A former Philippine National Police (PNP) Regional Commander, Mr Aquino was appointed as Mr Duterte’s new anti-drugs czar in August, just two weeks before he was due to retire.

The two had worked closely for more than 20 years while Mr Duterte was the mayor of the southern Philippine city, Davao.


Philippines “War On Drugs” — Human Rights Watch warns of bloodshed if police return to drug war

November 23, 2017

During his speech at Fort Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija Wednesday, the chief executive said he has no choice but to bring back the lead of his drug war to the police force. AP/Aaron Favila

MANILA, Philippines — Filipinos should expect more bloodshed.

Human Rights Watch Asia Deputy Director Phelim Kine stressed this point Wednesday following President Rodrigo Duterte’s statement that he will bring back the Philippine National Police on the forefront of his brutal war on drugs.

Related image
Human Rights Watch Asia Deputy Director Phelim Kine

“The Duterte government’s apparent desire to resume the murderous drug war underscores the need for a United Nations-led international investigation into the killings. Until that happens, the number of victims denied justice and accountability will likely only continue to grow,” Kine said in a press release.

He noted that the resumption of police anti-drug operations was “not wholly unexpected.”

Kine said that Duterte might have been emboldened by the unwillingness of US President Donald Trump or fellow Association of Southeast Asian Nations leaders to criticize the drug war during the 31st ASEAN Summit.

ASEAN emphasizes non-interference in the domestic issues of its members.

READDuterte says he will return drug war lead role to PNP

During his speech at Fort Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija Wednesday, the chief executive said he has no choice but to return the task of leading the drug war to the PNP.

“But as of now, just to parry, I placed it under PDEA (Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency). But whether I like it or not, I have to return that power to the police because, surely, it will increase the activity of the shabu,” Duterte said.

He said that PDEA might not be able to solve the country’s drug problem because it lacks manpower. The agency only has 2,000 personnel nationwide.

Last October, Duterte designated PDEA as the “sole agency” in charge of the war on drugs following the public outrage over alleged police abuse.

Jee Ick-joo case

Early this year, the firebrand leader was forced to suspend Oplan Tokhang after the kidnapping and killing of South Korean businessman Jee Ick-joo in the hands of some cops.

At that time, Duterte stripped the PNP and the National Bureau of Investigation of authority to conduct anti-illegal drug operations and transferred the campaign to PDEA backed by the Army.

But he later on decided to tap the police again in the anti-narcotics campaign, citing lack of manpower.

Duterte’s war on drugs, which has claimed over 12,000 lives according to rights watchdog, has received strong criticisms at home and abroad.

The government has disputed these numbers. According to the latest #RealNumbersPH data release, there have been 3,967 drug suspects killed in government operations since July 2016. Government officials, including Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano, said all of those killed were drug pushers.

The data releases no longer include information on “deaths under investigation,” a tally of murders and homicides that police have yet to determine motives for.

READDuterte brings back police into war on drugs


Philippines President Duterte says he will return drug war lead role to National Police

November 22, 2017
President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, in his speech during the 65th League of Cities of the Philippines (LCP) General Assembly at the Shangri-La at the Fort, Bonifacio Global City (BGC), Taguig City on November 21, 2017, reads a briefer on the effects of various illegal drugs as he explains how some illegal drug suspects tend to turn violent especially when accosted by law enforcers. King Rodriguez/Presidential Photo
MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte is bent on bringing back the police to his brutal war on drugs as he reiterated the need to dismantle the narcotics apparatus in the country.
Duterte said the Philippine National Police has to be involved in the anti-drug crackdown to prevent the proliferation of methamphetamine or shabu.
“When you say ‘all-out war,’ (that means) the order is to destroy the organizations because shabu involves organized crime,” the president told Army troops Wednesday in Fort Magsaysay.
“But as of now, just to parry, I placed it under PDEA (Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency). But whether I like it or not, I have to return that power to the police because surely, it will increase the activity of the shabu,” he added.
Duterte has said that PDEA might not be able to solve the country’s drug menace because it lacks manpower. He noted that the agency only has 2,000 personnel nationwide.
Duterte transferred the lead role in the crackdown on illegal drugs to PDEA following the outcry over the death of two teenage suspects in the hands of Caloocan policemen last August.
Policemen claimed that Kian delos Santos, 17, was a drug runner who violently resisted arrest but witnesses said the teenager was executed.
Carl Arnaiz, 19, was reportedly shot dead after robbing taxi driver Tomas Bagcal, who later on disowned the affidavits attributed to him.
PDEA data showed that 117,268 drug personalities were arrested and 78,619 anti-drug operations were conducted from July to November.
A total of 2,525.77 kilos of shabu or methamphetamine worth P18.9 billion were seized in the same period. The agency has also declared 4,295 barangays drug-cleared since July.

Canada’s Trudeau airs concern on Philippine killings

November 14, 2017


© AFP | Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tackled Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte over allegations of extrajudicial killings in Manila’s deadly drug war
MANILA (AFP) – Justin Trudeau tackled Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte over allegations of extrajudicial killings in Manila’s deadly drug war, he said on Tuesday.

The Canadian prime minister’s comments came the day after US President Donald Trump hailed the “great relationship” he enjoys with Duterte in a meeting the Philippines government said did not touch on human rights.

“I also mentioned human rights, the rule of law, and specifically extrajudicial killings as being an issue that Canada is concerned with,” Trudeau told reporters in Manila, recounting a conversation with Duterte.

“I impressed upon him the need for respect for the rule of law.”

Ahead of a regional summit in the Philippines, rights groups had urged world leaders to challenge Duterte over what they say are gross abuses.

The 72-year-old overwhelmingly won elections last year vowing to eradicate drugs through a campaign that would see up to 100,000 people killed.

Since he took office, police have reported killing 3,967 people in the crackdown.

Another 2,290 people have been murdered in drug-related crimes, while thousands of other deaths remain unsolved, according to government data.

Rights groups say Duterte may be presiding over a crime against humanity.

On Tuesday, Trudeau said Canada had earned a reputation for discussing human rights and the rule of law with other nations.

Asked how Duterte responded, Trudeau said: “The president was receptive to my comments and it was throughout a very cordial and positive exchange.”

“This is something that is important to Canadians, and it’s important to the world and I will always bring that up,” Trudeau said, referring to human rights.

The Canadian prime minister added he offered support to Duterte “as a friend to help move forward on what is a real challenge”.

Duterte is hosting world leaders as the Philippines holds the rotating chair of the 10-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) bloc.

Trudeau’s comments were a rare sour note for Duterte during a summit that has been largely silent on the issue.

Trump garnered headlines on Monday for his show of camaraderie with Duterte, a man who last week boasted of having personally stabbed someone to death as a teenager.

A Philippine presidential spokesman repeatedly insisted Monday that human rights had not come up during their summit talks, although the White House said they had done so “briefly”.

Philippine National Police Chief Who Engineered “Drug War” Killings Says He Will Raise Reirement Pensions “If Elected President” — “I will quadruple your pay”

October 30, 2017
“Hintayin ninyo maging presidente si Bato. Gawin kong quadruple ‘yung sweldo ninyo,” PNP chief Ronald dela Rosa told police retirees.  Michael Varcas, file

MANILA, Philippines — PNP Director General Ronald dela Rosa on Monday assured his retired colleagues that their pension would be increased if he becomes president, hinting at a possible future bid for the top post of the land.

The police chief made the statement following complaints from police retirees that they are being left out of the planned pay increase next year.

“Hintayin ninyo maging presidente si Bato. Gawin kong quadruple ‘yung sweldo ninyo,” Dela Rosa said referring to himself in the third person, according to a video posted by radio dzMM. (“Just wait that Bato becomes president, I will quadruple your pay.

Dela Rosa, who is up for retirement in January 2018, added that they are still crafting a proposal to include retirees in the planned compensation adjustment for military and uniformed personnel.

RELATED: Leni on ‘political ambition’: I don’t even have mascots, standees

“Pinag-aaralan pa what is the best option na lahat tayo makikinabang sa intention na tumaas ang sweldo,” Dela Rosa said. (“I’m still studying how all of us will benefit from the plan to hike pay.”)

The PNP chief, however, said that they have not yet submitted a position paper to the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) as active policemen are the priority.

Last month, the Congress came up with a draft joint resolution doubling the base pay of a police officer 1 in the PNP, the most junior rank equivalent to a private in the Department of National Defense and related government agencies.

The proposal also covers personnel of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology, Bureau of Fire Protection, Philippine Public Safety College, Philippine Coast Guard and the National Mapping and Resource Information Authority.

The Office of the President had concurred with the draft resolution that the DBM had prepared.

If signed by both houses of Congress, a PO1 will enjoy a 100-percent increase in monthly base pay from P14,834 pesos to P29,668.

Before Dela Rosa made an informal announcement of a possible presidential bid, he advised Vice President Leni Robredo, who has repeatedly denied wanting to become president, to set aside her ambition and instead support President Rodrigo Duterte.

“If she wants to be president, she can try but she should let the current administration and the president finish the job,” the police chief previously said in Filipino.  — Patricia Lourdes Viray

RELATED: 100% pay hike for soldiers, cops in 2018