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War on drugs used as front

/ 12:08 AM January 03, 2017

Eight out of every 10 Filipinos worry about dying in the drug war, says the latest Social Weather Stations survey. For the new year, New Zealanders join the Filipino people in hoping for the Duterte presidency to decisively end extrajudicial killings in the country.

Oplan Tokhang, the Duterte administration’s war on drugs, gave impunity for police forces to shoot drug suspects, without first attempting arrest. Thousands of people, mostly in urban poor communities, have been killed by the state or vigilante groups.  We are very concerned to hear of cases of mistaken identity, in which innocent people with no connection to the drug trade and even children have been killed.

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Philippine security forces have long used the counterinsurgency against the Communist Party of the Philippines and New People’s Army as an excuse to attack activist groups.  Now Karapatan and other leading human rights groups have documented several cases of state and vigilante forces using the drug war as a front to arrest activists on trumped-up charges or even violently attack them.

In October, several farmer activists, resisting land-grabbing in San Jose del Monte, Bulacan, were arrested on drug charges, allegedly after police officers planted evidence on them. On Dec. 5, Joel Lising, a leader of the Tri-Wheels Organization para sa Kabuhayan, was gunned down in Tondo, Manila, during the early hours of the morning.

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We are saddened and outraged over too many civilian lives lost, including innocent children. Hoping for an EJK-free 2017, we join human rights groups in demanding that all those responsible for extrajudicial killings be prosecuted and that the drug war not  be used as a front to attack more community activists.

CAMERON WALKER, Auckland Philippines Solidarity, [email protected]; MURRAY HORTON, Philippine Solidarity Network of Aotearoa, [email protected]; ROD PROSSER, Wellington Kiwi Pinoy, [email protected]

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TAGS: Communist Party of the Philippines, drug war, Killings, New People’s Army, Oplan Tokhang, Social Weather Stations
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