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Media on the 'War on Drugs' | CMFR

Media on the ‘War on Drugs’

Recalling the Rights of the Accused


CHEERS TO PhilStar.com for a timely and relevant look into the rights of individuals accused of crimes in the Philippines in the context of the “war on drugs” of President Rodrigo Duterte. The spike in the number of drug pushers and drug users killed for supposedly resisting arrest has provoked statements of concern about possible violation of human rights, from Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo, Human Rights Commissioner Jose “Chito” Gascon, and Senators Leila de Lima, Risa Hontiveros and Franklin Drilon.

Rights of the accused

Screengrab from Philstar.com.

The rights of those accused of doing wrong,”  by Jonathan de Santos and published in The Philippine Star website on July 10, reviewed the Philippine National Police (PNP) handbook and the 2008 “Know Your Rights: A Citizen’s Primer on Law Enforcement” by the PNP and the Hanns Sidel Foundation.

PhilStar.com noted Rule Number 1 of the Revised PNP Operational Procedures handbook that requires all PNP personnel to “respect the human rights and dignity of suspects during police operations”  to be able “to serve the public and protect life and property.”

The report enumerated the rights of the accused during arrest, including the right to remain silent, the right to counsel, and the right to contact a lawyer or an immediate family member. It also highlighted the rights of the accused while in police custody, including proper conduct by the police during interrogations and when taking sworn statements.

Even before he was sworn into office, President Duterte had been very vocal in his focus on drugs and crime to the extent of urging the police to kill individuals involved in the drug trade who resist arrest or who fight back.  After the May 9 elections,

The ‘Kill List’: Tracking the Killings


Inquirer's kill list

Screengrab from Inquirer.net.


CHEERS TO the Philippine Daily Inquirer for its initiative to track the killings of suspected criminals in the Duterte administration’s “war on drugs,” as this serves as a valuable reference in establishing a reliable record of the numbers slain.

First published on July 7, the Inquirer’s “The Kill List,” contained the names of and other basic information about suspected criminals who have been killed since President Rodrigo Duterte’s first day as president on June 30.

Most of those in the list were identified by the police as suspected drug dealers or pushers.  The Inquirer announced that it will update the list every Monday and Thursday, and that it would follow up with a separate count of those killed within the post-election transition period (May 10 to June 29).

A section of Rappler’s “Drug suspect killings rise after Duterte victory,” on June 24 makes a similar effort.

These media counts will assist in the investigation of the killings as the numbers have already raised public concern about the failure of the police to observe due process, which President Duterte had assured in some of his statements and has been reiterated by other officials, such as Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella and Philippine National Police Chief Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa. So far, human rights groups have yet to come up with their own monitoring or tracking initiatives.




when the results showed that he would become the country’s 16th president, he declared that “if you resist, show violent resistance, my order to the police (will be) to shoot to kill.” As thousands of accused drug users and pushers have voluntarily surrendered to the police, the number of suspects killed for supposedly resisting arrest or while in police custody has also increased.

The report also quoted a Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ ) blog by lawyer Jose Manuel Diokno, national chairman of the Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG) and a PCIJ trustee, who called the Duterte administration’s war on crime “a nuclear explosion of violence that is spiraling out of control and creating a nation without judges, without law, and without reason.”  The human rights lawyer also said that while “drug pushers destroy lives” and “criminals behave like animals,” killing them does not make the killer any better.



Human Rights Groups in the Philippines

Below is a list of organizations in the Philippines that journalists can easily contact to get more information and background on human rights. These groups also have sources and experts that can provide the needed contexts for specific human rights issues.