The war on drugs “is nothing but extra-judicial killing". More than 12,000 people have died in police operations. Church outreach towards addicts and families includes relief and rehabilitation. Government figures about drug addiction are inflated.
Manila (AsiaNews) – "The Philippine government has no moral responsibility nor political right to kill people on the basis of mere suspicions,” said Mgr Broderick Soncuaco Pabillo, auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Manila, speaking to AsiaNews. “What about people’s inalienable human right to defend their position with due process?” he asks.
According to the latest data, more than 12,000 people have died since President Rodrigo Duterte launched his war on drugs.
The latter has sparked widespread protests by Church leaders, civil society groups, human rights organisations, social activists, journalists, students, academics and ordinary people. Several international organisations have also criticised the Filipino government.
The Catholic Church of the Philippines has tried to offer relief and rehabilitation programmes to families who lost members killed by police.
Since Duterte became president in 2016, police have killed 3,451 people in drug-related cases, the government’s own data show. According to police, more than 2,000 people were additionally killed in drug-related crimes and thousands have been killed in unclear circumstances.
For Mgr Pabillo, the police and other government agencies cannot have a free hand to kill people just because they think they might be involved in drug-related crimes. “This is morally and politically wrong,” he said.
“Any person who is said to be a drug suspect in the eyes of the government must have an opportunity to defend themselves in a right and lawful court with due process, accessing the judicial system. The government cannot apprehend people without proper investigation and facts,” he added.
Concerning drug addicts, the government should give priority to treatment and rehabilitation programmes. It should give them a chance to live in society with full human dignity and respect rather than eliminating them without mercy and violating their right to exist.
“The government’s relentless war against drug is nothing but extra-judicial killing, which is uncalled for. It is nothing but an ‘abuse of power’,” said the bishop.
Duterte has claimed that the country has about 4 million drug addicts. According to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency "one in every eight households has a drug personality (sic)", that comes to 2.5 million people in a country of 20 million households.
The Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism also noted that a national government survey of 5,000 people conducted between December 2015 to February 2016 found that that 94 per cent of respondents are “non-users” or “never used drugs before”.
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