Palace upholds right to life, ‘continuing investigation’ on drug war killings


Malacañang on Thursday, November 2, affirmed its “continuing obligation” to investigate killings in its crackdown on narcotics, following a recent survey indicating nearly half of Filipinos believe it was inevitable for innocent people to get killed in the so-called drug war.

While admitting that there are collateral damages in the anti-illegal drugs campaign, incoming Palace Spokesperson Harry Roque maintained that drug-related killings were not state sanctioned.

“Well, in any war, unfortunately, there will be collateral damage. The goal of the government is to minimize the collateral damage,” Roque said in his first Palace briefing.

He also assured the public that the administration of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte remains committed in upholding the right to life.

“The goal of the government is to uphold the right to life, which is to protect and promote the right to life,” Roque maintained.

“As far as this obligation is concerned, there is a continuing obligation of the state to investigate, prosecute and punish the perpetrators of these killings,” he added.

According to a recent Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey, nearly half of Filipinos believe that the deaths of the innocent are unavoidable in the course of Duterte’s anti-illegal drugs campaign.

Out of the 1,500 respondents, 46 percent agreed with the statement that: “It cannot be avoided that there are innocent citizens who will die in order to completely eradicate the illegal drug problem in the country.”

Of the 46 percent who said deaths of the innocent were inevitable, 21 percent said they “strongly agree” while 24 percent said they “somewhat agree.”

On the other hand, 35 percent disagreed with the statement, of which 15 percent said they “somewhat disagree” and 20 percent said they “strongly disagree.”

The remaining 19 percent were undecided, giving a net agreement score of +10 or “moderately strong” as classified by SWS.

The survey was conducted from September 23 to 27 using face-to-face interviews and has a sampling error margins of ±3 percent for national percentages.

‘Stop the killings’

Also on Thursday,  families of  enforced disappearances and victims of extrajudicial killings (EJK) victims gathered at the Bantayog ng mga Bayani Memorial Center in Quezon City.

Members of the Families of Victims of Involuntary Disappearances (FIND) lit thousands of candles and offered prayers for victims of drug war violence in the event dubbed as “Libong Kandila at Panalangin para sa Libu-libong Biktima ng Karahasan” (A thousand candles and prayers for thousands of victims of violence).

The event, according to the group, aims to remember victims, expose the real state of human rights situation in the country, and put a stop to violence and killings.

“The families of victims of enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings are one in holding the state accountable for these heinous and violent transgressions of human rights,” said Nilda Sevilla, FIND co-chairperson said.

“Together, they must break their silence—demand truth, justice, reparation, and guarantees of non-repetition—in order to break impunity,” she added.

Duterte’s drug war has been heavily criticized by local human rights group and other international communities over the deaths of thousands of suspected drug pushers and users either in police operations or by vigilantes.

According to the Philippine National Police (PNP), there were 6,225 drug-related killings recorded from July 2016—when Duterte assumed presidency and launched the campaign—to September 2017.

The PNP insisted that there has not been a single case of extrajudicial killing, and that the estimated 9,000 to 10,000 death toll by human rights organizations were bloated.

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