Duterte’s drug war caused irreparable damage to communities and families - Karapatan

“Today, we remember and commemorate the killing of 17-year-old Kian Delos Santos. We likewise remember all the victims of the Duterte regime’s brutal war on drugs. The estimates point to more than 20,000 casualties while no significant and fundamental change has been observed in the government’s anti-narcotics drive. The Duterte regime is stuck in a rut. It does not know how to end the “war” that it has confidently started. As we are confronted with thousands of dead Filipinos in the wake of this campaign, Duterte will have to deal with thousands more of each victims’ families who are out to seek justice,” said Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay on the first year commemoration of Kian Delos Santos’ killing.
 
 

 
Kian delos Santos was shot by the Caloocan police on August 16, 2017, after allegedly resisting arrest. He was accused of being a drug courier – information that the Caloocan PNP admitted was only reported to them on social media, and was thus never verified. The teenager’s death remained questionable as evidence, including a CCTV footage and statements from witnesses, revealed he was dragged, tied up, on his knees and begging for his life when he was shot. The killing of Delos Santos sparked public outrage and triggered broad criticism against the government’s anti-narcotics campaign.

“Police impunity remains to hound drug war operations. The Caloocan police chief sacked after Kian’s death was merely reassigned. Chito Bersaluna now acts as the Bulacan provincial police chief, responsible for the violent dispersal of striking Nutriasia workers on July 30, 2018. The Duterte regime remained true in its guarantee to protect State forces who implement the war on drugs. On the other hand, what of victims and their families? They are left grieving and still struggling to demand justice and accountability,” said Palabay.

Karapatan also cited the recent death of Allan Rafael, a cancer-stricken former overseas Filipino worker who died while in police custody. Rafael was accused of possessing illegal drugs and was sent to the Quiapo police station on August 2; he died on August 6. The victim was able to send messages to his family prior to his death, narrating how he was beaten and how he was foced to withdraw cash. The family believes he was beaten to death, but to remove the possibility of this being confirmed, the police embalmed Rafael’s body without the family’s consent.

“The Duterte regime’s war on drugs has spiraled into a graver problem of police cover-ups, police brutality, impunity, and widespread abuses. From the scourge of illicit drugs, the Filipino people is now plagued with another pestilence – the scourge of corrupt, bloodthirsty policemen who roam communities without any regard for people’s rights, believing they can get away with the protection of top authorities,” Palabay futher said.

“We reiterate that the war on drugs is ineffective. It has led to an embarrassing failure on the part of the Duterte regime, and irreparable damage to communities and families. It does not solve the fundamental socio-economic problems that have allowed the drug trade to thrive. The bodies keep piling up, while this government remains blind and stubborn in the peddling of this “war”. As rights continue to be violated, resources continue to be wasted, justice continues to be evasive, and impunity continues to be pervasive, the Filipino people are massing up its strength to demand justice and accountability,” concluded Palabay.