CHR agrees with PNP: ‘Killing not solution in drug war’

Commission on Human Rights (CHR)

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) agrees with Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Gen. Rodolfo Azurin Jr. that “killing is not the solution in drug war.”

Through Spokesperson and Executive Director Jacqueline Ann de Guia, the CHR said it “could not agree more” to Azurin’s pronouncement that instead of killing those involved in the illegal drug trade, masterminds should be jailed and areas where drugs are prevalent should be developed.

"Implementing serious reforms is important in building and nurturing a law enforcement culture that upholds the rule of law and human rights," De Guia said.

"CHR looks forward to its translation to human rights-based policy where due process consistently prevails and violence is significantly reduced, if not totally eliminated," she said.

"It is also heartening that General Azurin intends to tackle the root causes of the drug problem, which will help ensure a long-term solution that will truly benefit the communities," she added.

At the same time, the CHR fully supports the PNP’s reforms initiated through the Kapulisan, Simbahan, at Pamayanan or the Kasimbayanan program. Through it, the PNP will collaborate with faith-based leaders in order to better understand how to deal with constituents and criminals alike, it said.

"Collaborating and counselling with the community and the church can help the police officers to better understand the circumstances and root causes of crimes. This will enable them to implement crime control and prevention methods that are humane, holistic, and sustainable," De Guia said.

The CHR regularly provides human rights education and training for police officers in partnership with the PNP - Human Rights Affairs Office.

At the same time, De Guia said the CHR hopes that the PNP will also ensure accountability among erring police offers - particularly those who were involved in deaths relating to the previous administration's war on illegal drugs.

She said the CHR gave the previous administration a "failed" rating in protecting the rights of "nanlaban" (fought back) victims in its Report on Investigated Killings in Relation to the Anti-Illegal Drug Campaign.

The 48-page report looked into a total of 882 cases with 1,139 victims from 2016 to 2021. The CHR found it "particular" that incidents of "nanlaban" are "culled from police records," and law enforcers have made it a pattern to invoke the act of self-defense. They constantly alleged that the victims, upon sensing that they are dealing with the cops, pulled out their guns and fired at them.

The report stated that while the police claimed that they drew out their guns in self-defense, the CHR investigation came to a different conclusion -- that the law enforcers were actually intent on killing the "nanlaban" victims.

The report also said: "Contrary to the claims of self-defense, available information indicated intent to kill by the police operatives and disproportionality of force used to repel aggression - with the fatal location and number of gunshot wounds sustained by the victims. There were possible violations of the rights of the drug suspects, and lapses in the observance of protocols established by law and reiterated in PNP manuals."

The targeted victims were even "killed with disproportionate and/or excessive force or in a brutal manner." The injuries sustained by the victims, as well as the disposal of their bodies in some incidents, led the CHR to the conclusion that the police have no intention to keep the victims alive, the report added.