Statement of the Commission on Human Rights on the discovery of severed body parts in Bacolod City

Statement of the Commission on Human Rights on the discovery of severed body parts in Bacolod City

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) condemns the mutilation of a missing unknown victim whose severed hands were discovered in a trash bag found in Bacolod City on Thursday, 26 January 2023.

The hands were sealed in an ice cream container containing a note listing the names of several residents of Barangay 2, Bacolod City, some of whom were former offenders of drug crimes or released on parole and probation, while others are scheduled to undergo drug rehabilitation. The note included a threat saying, “Lahat kayo kung hindi titigil, raffle lang ito (If everybody won’t stop, this is just a random pick).”

CHR, through CHR Region VI, is already conducing an independent motu proprio investigation on this case. CHR denounces this culture of vigilantism, including any attempt to subdue the rule of law and other human rights, such as the right to due process and right to life, liberty, and security.

CHR has long since recognised the ill effects of drugs, as well as the value of efforts combatting its illegal use, sale, and production in the country. We, however, stress that Initiatives for the general welfare of the people should remain respectful of the the human dignity and rights of all.

The Commission believes in the potential of new programs, such as the Buhay Ingatan, Droga’y Ayawan or BIDA program, and hopes that this rights-based intervention focusing on rehabilitation and livelihood initiatives will be implemented more effectively in the country.

To further develop this human rights-based approach, CHR continues to hope that the government will adopt the Commission’s previous recommendation on drug treatment and recovery, particularly the closure of compulsory centers for drug use and instead investing in voluntary community-based approaches, as well cautioning against the use of watch lists, which subjects people who use drugs to surveillance.

It is high-time to pivot the perspective of seeing drug use as merely within the purview of crime and order, and start treating drug dependence as a health condition that should be addressed through evidence-informed and rights-based approaches. CHR, in pursuant of its independent mandate as the country’s national human rights institution, shall continue to strive in guiding government in its actions and approaches to the drug problem in the interest of upholding the rights and welfare of all. ###

[1] Statement of the Commission on Human Rights welcoming the government’s holistic approach in addressing the drug problem

[2] Statement of CHR Executive Director, Atty Jacqueline Ann de Guia, on the bill seeking to establish drug abuse and treatment centers in every province