Today is the International Day of Peace.
Development and peace go together, and this is why the United Nations sees as central to the achievement of sustainable development the drastic reduction of all forms of violence, the promotion of the rule of law, and equal access to justice for all.
This day is especially significant for our country since for the last three months, the country has been wracked by seeming government-sponsored violence and lawlessness, by a war the administration has declared, ostensibly against drugs but which has become a war against poor and marginalized Filipinos. Since the election of President Rodrigo Duterte, over 3000 people, practically all of them alleged drug users from the poor sector of Philippine society, have been subjected to extra-judicial execution either by the police or by vigilante groups. While President Duterte’s subordinates invent ever more complex arguments to exonerate him, he has made little attempt to conceal his preference for the extra-judicial execution of suspected drug dealers and users and his impatience with due process. He has also enthusiastically given the green light to vigilantes to shoot pushers and users. And he has made it very clear that he does not believe in rehabilitation, which is the principal policy of all other governments towards users.
In Defense of Human Rights and Dignity Movement called for the immediate investigation and prosecution of the Davao Death Squad in the light of yesterday’s Senate hearing on extrajudicial killings.
In Defense of Human Rights and Dignity Movement (iDEFEND) strongly condemns the Davao City Night Market bombing which resulted in the deaths of 14 people and injuries to 67 others. This calculated, deliberate, and brutal assault on defenseless civilians is intolerable, and the perpetrators of this most atrocious act should be brought to justice through diligent, affirmative, yet lawful actions by the Duterte administration. iDEFEND commiserates and sympathizes with the loved ones of the victims of the bombing, and extends its sincerest condolences and solidarity.
We strongly disapprove that the issues of terrorism, drugs and extrajudicial killings are being conflated when these are distinct issues requiring different approaches. Moreover, mobilizing the Armed Forces of the Philippines to become direct participants in the issue of drugs, will further escalate rights violations of various kinds. Instead of abating the Extrajudicial Killings, this will even increase its uptake. There have already been too many deaths - including those of very young children- since the President’s assumption into office.