CHR welcomes reforms in anti-drug drive, seeks accountability for drug war killings

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, December 8) — The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) called for accountability for the thousands of drug war killings in the country even as it welcomed the government’s move to institute reforms in its anti-narcotics campaign.

“Genuine reform and policy shift also necessitate ascertaining accountability of all perpetrators, including police personnel and liable officials, who are allegedly involved in killings related to the drug campaign in the previous and current administrations,” the commission said in a statement Thursday.

“Sustained efforts in resolving the thousands of drug-related killings will demonstrate the government's seriousness in giving justice to victims and curbing impunity,” it added.

Last October, Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Benjamin Abalos spearheaded the launch of what the department calls as a "more holistic" campaign against illegal drugs called “Buhay Ay Ingatan, Droga’y Ayawan (BIDA).

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The CHR expressed hopes that the DILG will be open to include their previous recommendation on drug treatment and recovery that calls for voluntary community-based approaches.

“This means individuals who use drugs should give full consent and voluntarily agree to the rehabilitation program instead of getting admitted to compulsory or mandatory treatment centers,” the human rights agency added.

Other suggestions of the CHR include access to voluntary and evidence-based services in treating drug use as a health condition, and the scrapping of drug watch list in respect of the right to privacy and confidentiality.

‘Different way’

President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. said in September that his administration will formulate policies to address drug prevention and rehabilitation.

“Turuan natin ‘yung mga bata na ‘wag pumasok sa ganiyan dahil wala kayong aabutin diyan, karamihan ng pumasok diyan either naka-kulong na or patay na,” he said during a pre-recorded interview.

[Translation: Let's teach the children not to go into that because you won't get anywhere, most of the people who go there are either in jail or dead.]

Former President Rodrigo Duterte has been criticized for his bloody war on drugs that claimed thousands of lives from 2016 to 2022.

In September 2021, the pre-trial chamber of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague authorized the start of an investigation into the Duterte administration’s controversial drug war.

The court described the thousands of deaths in the campaign as a “widespread and systematic attack against the civilian population.”

READ: ICC pre-trial chamber authorizes PH drug war probe

ICC asks PH government for proof of 'genuine' drug war investigation

The Philippine government opposes the ICC’s investigation, arguing that the country has its own functional justice system that can resolve the issue.