- Human rights groups launched In Defense of Human Rights and Dignity Movement (iDefend), a movement which will help the families of victims of extrajudicial killings and police operations in the campaign against drugs
- Former Anakbayan Representative Walden Bello said that the Duterte administration must address the real cause of the illegal drug trade in the country which is poverty
- iDefend will work in cooperation with the Commission on Human Rights and they call on the government to uphold the rule of law in its all-out war on drugs
The all-out war against the illegal drug trade in the Philippines should not be a war on human rights according to a coalition of human rights advocates who called upon President Rodrigo Duterte to address the pressing issue.
The movement ‘In Defense of Human Rights and Dignity Movement’ (iDefend) pointed out that poverty is the real cause of drug addiction and therefore the government must address the root cause first.
Last Friday, August 12, 30 private groups launched iDefend which aims to extend its help to families of victims of extrajudicial killings and police operations in the President’s campaign against drugs by providing legal services to them. iDefend is also created to “fill a vacuum” that was left when the political opposition collapsed.
According to former Akbayan Representative Walden Bello, the movement aims to show that there are groups of people who are against the administration’s policy of killing drug suspects.
‘… [The administration] is simple addressing the symptoms instead of the principal cause of illegal drug use. Most studies have shown that while only a small minority of the poor are drug users, illegal drug use is most prevalent among the poor and underprivileged, and the most likely reason is to escape from the harsh realities of poverty, hopelessness, and powerlessness,’ said Bello.
The movement further reminded the current administration that the Philippines has expressed its commitment to several international human rights treaties which the country has to abide.
Bello further said that repressive policy on drugs does not prove to be efficient as shown by the drug wars initiated by Colombia, Mexico, and the United States.
‘The administration doesn’t even know the scale of the problem it is dealing with. Getting rid of drugs and crime by extrajudicial murder won’t be accomplished in the promised three to six months. It won’t be finished in six years. It all boils down to a war against the poor. We can be sure that even with a high kill rate, we will still have a massive drug problem after six years,’ Bello noted.
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Meanwhile, Kilusan para sa Pambansang Demokrasya Chairwoman Virginia Suarez stated that the government is equally responsible for all the crimes happening in the country due to the campaign against drugs.
Suarez said, ‘Every citizen has the right to live and be protected in his own country, and that is the government’s responsibility. It has the duty to resolve those killings [carried out] by vigilantes.’
Furthermore, she agrees with Bello that the campaign is “ineffective” since drug suspects are killing each other.
‘Instead of safeguarding the people, the people are rendered more insecure and unsafe, and that shows immediately how ineffective the campaign of the government is,’ added Suarez.
iDefend will start working with the Commission on Human Rights according to Bello. Moreover, they will also call for the government to uphold the rule of law and due process.
Since the President took office, 601 drugs suspects have been killed and 200 of these deaths are caused by vigilante killings. – Kami Media