Wednesday, 18 September, 2019

Amnesty International report: Bulacan is drug war's 'bloodiest killing field'

Relatives hold a memorial for their slain loved ones in a church in Manila Relatives hold a memorial for their slain loved ones in a church in Manila Credit Bullit Marquez AP
Patty Aguilar | 09 July, 2019, 11:48

Amnesty International made a "hasty, sweeping generalization" when it declared Bulacan province as the "bloodiest killing field" in the Philippines' war on drugs, police said Tuesday.

Amnesty said the press has lost interest in the killings while the government fails to investigate or provide adequate treatment programmes for drug users.

But rights groups claim a much higher death toll, including many suspects killed by motorcycle-riding gunmen human rights monitors suspect were financed by police officers or were policemen themselves.

The watchdog described the scale of alleged abuses committed nationwide during the administration's three-year-old counter-narcotics campaign as at "the threshold of crimes against humanity".

Amnesty said Bulacan province north of the capital has become "the country's bloodiest killing field" after some officers involved in the crackdown were transferred there from Manila, which used to be the "epicenter of killings".

Monday's statement builds on a 2017 AI report alleging that police had "systematically targeted" the poor and defenseless, including planting evidence and fabricating official incident reports.

"At the moment, it's pretty clear that the Philippine government has nothing to show in terms of its genuine commitment to investigate this issue", Bequelin told reporters at the launch of the report in Quezon City.

"The problem is this Amnesty International is politicizing the so-called extra judicial killings in this country so there is bias, there is prejudice", Panelo said during a news conference at the Palace.

President Duterte's war on drugs has been harshly criticized for its alleged violation of human rights.

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A vote on the resolution by the 47-member council is expected later this week.

Panelo last week described the call for a United Nations investigation as interference by foreign governments "misled by false news and untruthful narratives".

"The fact remains that the basis for their call (of investigation on war on drugs) is factually wrong".

According to official statistics, at least 6,600 drug suspects have been killed in police drug operations from July 1, 2016 to May 31 this year.

"They are saying that there have been murders in this country as if all those who were killed in police operations have been intentionally slaughtered or killed", he said during a regular new briefing. READ: Justice begins probe of P1.8-billion shabu smuggle Malacañang has previously shunned the call for probe, calling it an "interference" in the country's sovereignty.

The police narrative that undercover officers posing as drug buyers had killed only in self defence "doesn't meet the feeblest standards of credibility", Amnesty concluded. Another pattern identified in the report involves "abductions by plainclothes police - and individuals who go missing - which are then classified by police as "buy-bust" kills when the body appears", the report added.

"The Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court must expedite its examination into the situation and open a full and thorough criminal investigation", Amnesty said. "So we'd rather have our own groups here protective of human rights here to help those who feel that there has been police abuse in the matter of police operation", he said.

He last week said police conduct was lawful and described the call for a United Nations probe as interference by foreign governments "misled by false news and untruthful narratives".

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