Statement of the Commission on Human Rights on the recent declaration of Davao City Mayor Sebastian “Baste” Duterte’s war against drugs in the City

Statement of the Commission on Human Rights on the recent declaration of Davao City Mayor Sebastian “Baste” Duterte’s war against drugs in the City

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) expresses grave concern over the recent declaration of Davao City Mayor Sebastian “Baste” Duterte’s war against drugs. Principal to the pursuit of truth and justice relies on the unconditional respect for every person’s most fundamental right – the right to life itself, even if they are arrested for an alleged criminal offense.

According to published reports, five drug suspects have already been shot down in separate incidents over the course of 24 hours, two days after Mayor Baste declared a war on drugs. In accordance with our Constitutional mandate, CHR Region XI has launched an investigation concerning the alleged drug-related killings in the city.

The Commission vehemently denounces the alarming incidents of alleged extrajudicial killings associated with the anti-drug campaign in Davao City, as these acts constitute grave violations of fundamental human rights, particularly the right to life and due process, and are in direct disregard to the principles of justice and the rule of law.

While the CHR recognises the gravity of the drug problem in the country and the importance of anti-drug programs in addressing the issue with utmost urgency, we reiterate that putting the law in someone’s hands will not resolve the problem as it only perpetuates the culture of impunity, violence, fear, and threat. Using extrajudicial means undermines the rule of law and destroys faith in legal systems, ultimately hindering genuine efforts to address the root causes of drug-related problems in the country.

In line with this, we acknowledge the importance of comprehensive and effective drug-abuse and trafficking prevention strategies. True advancement, however, can only be made by institutionalising policies that uphold human rights principles and follow legal frameworks that no longer foster further violence, insecurity, and a culture of impunity.

As duty-bearer, the State has an obligation to respect and protect the human rights of every citizen, in particular, victims of drug-related killings. This includes taking decisive action to conduct prompt and impartial investigation into these incidents and ensuring that those responsible for the killings related to the anti-drug campaign are held accountable, thereby attaining justice for the victims.

CHR, as an independent national human rights institution (NHRI), reaffirms its willingness to collaborate with relevant government offices, particularly local government units (LGUs), to advance grassroots investigations and ensure due process. Let us remain steadfast in our roles and responsibilities so that we can bring truth and justice to the Filipino people.

#StopTheKillings #StopImpunity

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