February 4, 2023

Filipino Guardian

Sentinels of Filipino Free Press

CHR: Responsibility for violations required for anti-drug campaign reform

The Human Rights Commission (CHR) on Thursday welcomed the government’s new strategy in the fight against illegal drugs while calling for an investigation into allegations of abuse by the authorities.

The Marcos government recently launched the Buhay Ingatan, Droga’y Ayawan, or BIDA program, which seeks to tackle the drug problem by reducing demand and rehabilitating those who use illicit drugs.

“Real reform and policy change also require a statement [the] Accountability of all perpetrators, including police personnel and liable officials, allegedly involved in drug campaign-related killings in previous and current governments,” the CHR said in a statement.

“Parallel, sustained efforts to solve the thousands of drug-related murders will demonstrate the government’s seriousness in bringing justice to victims and curbing impunity.”

The commission said there was a need to “reorient and retrain” police personnel to prevent any form of abuse or injury.

The CHR also supported “a holistic, multi-sectoral and human rights-based approach” to address the root causes of the drug problem in the country.

“By faithfully adopting rights-based perspectives, this approach can help ensure the physical, psychological and social functioning of individuals who use drugs, thereby reducing their propensity to resort to drugs to cope with life’s problems and challenges,” said the chr.

“In order to ensure compliance with standards that protect the right to health, the acceptability and quality of intended interventions must also be determined. This includes access to voluntary and evidence-based services [for] Treating drug use as a health condition. Likewise, the use of a watch list must be eliminated, as it entails surveillance that negates the right to due process and the right to privacy and confidentiality,” she added.

The CHR said it expects “faithful implementation and rights-based compliance” with the government programme.

Former President Rodrigo Duterte pulled the Philippines out of the Rome Statute, the treaty that created the International Criminal Court, in 2018, with the exit taking effect in 2019 after the ICC opened a preliminary investigation into allegations of state-sanctioned killings in its war on drugs .

The Philippines previously urged the ICC not to reopen its investigation into Duterte’s deadly drug war, insisting the tribunal lacked jurisdiction.

Government records showed that at least 6,200 drug suspects were killed in police operations from June 2016 to November 2021. However, several human rights groups claimed the actual death toll was around 12,000 to 30,000. — VBL, GMA Integrated Messages