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‘In the pursuit of change, we believe that life is inviolable’

/ 12:10 AM September 23, 2016

We, members of the Philippine Misereor Partnership Inc.-National Cluster, composed of civil society organizations and development institutions based in the National Capital Region, add our voices to those expressing deep concern about the effect of President Duterte’s statements and policies regarding the campaign to curb drug abuse and criminality.

While we agree that addressing the problem on drugs and criminality is an important government priority and a laudable goal, we are dismayed by the campaign’s utter disregard for human rights, rule of law and due process.

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The number of deaths related to the war on drugs keeps on rising, with an average of 10 persons killed every day. It is evident that aside from the police’s intensified antidrug campaign, an alarming vigilantism has come into play and appears responsible for the rampant and increasing number of cases of arbitrary executions.

While some claim that drug-related criminality has gone down and people feel safer, there is also great insecurity and fear, most especially in poor communities. No one knows who are hunted down in their homes and summarily executed. Almost all of the victims were poor. It is lamentable that the Philippine justice system remains unresponsive in safeguarding and protecting the rights of the poor. The disregard for the rule of law further endangers those who have less in life.

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We are alarmed that President Duterte’s order to “shoot to kill” criminals and drug offenders resisting arrest seems to have been interpreted liberally by some members of the police force.

We call on the President and Police Chief Ronald dela Rosa to instruct the men and women in uniform to strictly follow the rules of engagement in apprehending suspects.

As duty bearers, the President and the entire government machinery are obliged to ensure that the rights of all persons are respected and protected, and that the sanctity of life is upheld. We believe that effective measures to stop the proliferation and use of dangerous drugs can be undertaken without resorting to methods that violate human rights and dignity.

We urge that proper cases be filed in court and effectively pursued against drug lords and protectors without fear or favor. We support government and nongovernment efforts to ensure reparation and healing for the victims of drug-related and other crimes, as well as to establish preventive measures.

We also urge every citizen to take a stand against criminality and all killings and continue to be vigilant in standing up for the rights of everyone. The building of a peaceful and secure society entails citizens’ participation in democratic processes. Everyone has a role to play in improving and promoting adherence to the rule of law.

Finally, we ask the President to reconsider his proposal to reimpose the death penalty, which is not only antilife but also antipoor. There are no shortcuts for achieving peace, security, and order, or for providing access to justice. These are the fruits of long and arduous work in the fields of human rights, democratic governance and development, especially in the fight against poverty.

We strongly support change and transformation toward peace and social justice. In the pursuit of change, we believe that life is inviolable. Humanity, not killing, will build our future.

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—PHILIPPINE MISEREOR PARTNERSHIP INC.-NATIONAL CLUSTER, Unit 204 Pacific Century Tower, 1472-1476 Barangay South Triangle, Quezon Ave., Quezon City

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TAGS: drug war, Killings, Philippine Misereor Partnership Inc., Rodrigo Duterte
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