47 political murders under Duterte reported to UN expert ahead of PH review; drug war EJKs to follow

MANILA, Philippines -- A human rights group has submitted a “letter of allegation” documenting 47 murders linked to government’s counterinsurgency program under President Rodrigo Duterte to United Nations Special Rapporteur Agnes Callamard ahead of the review by the UN Human Rights Council of the Philippines’ record. Karapatan said it is also working with Rise Up, a network of faith-based and grassroots groups that aids victims of the extrajudicial killings accompanying Duterte’s war on drugs, to prepare complaints related to the bloody campaign that has claimed thousands of lives since July last year. Callamard has indicated her willingness to investigate the drug war deaths but her visit has been stymied by the government’s insistence she agree to conditions set by Duterte, including submitting herself to questioning and debating him.

The Philippines’ compliance with its human rights obligations is scheduled for the universal periodic review of the UNHRC on May 8. The review will cover the last four years of the administration of former President Benigno Aquino III and the first months of Duterte. The 47 cases submitted to Callamard all took place under Duterte, from July last year to Maarch 31. In her letter to Callamard, who handles extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay asked the UN rights expert to take any appropriate action on the killings of peasants, indigenous peoples and workers, most of who “faced harassment and vilification by the military because of their advocacy and actions to defend people’s rights and are thus considered as human rights defenders.” Under Aquino, Palabay said they documented 334 politically motivated extrajudicial killings. During the nine years Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was president, Karapatan counted 1,206 murders. Palabay said this proved that the recommendations by Callamard’s predecessor, Philip Alston, who visited the country in 2007 and directly implicated the government to political murder, have gone unheeded. Aside from the killings, Karapatan is also preparing documentation of other human rights violations such as illegal arrests, forced evacuations and the military bombardment of communities.
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