By PhilRights Staff

Welcome to HR Insights, a weekly roundup of human rights news in the Philippines. This week…

Deadly “Drug War” to Continue Under New Police Chief

Newly appointed Philippine National Police chief Oscar Albayalde vows to continue the murderous so-called “drug war” and saying “we will not relent”  on that policy. Echoing the earlier statements of his predecessor,  Albayalde says he cannot promise a bloodless anti-illegal drugs campaign, according to an Inquirer report.

Additionally, congress is mulling over granting more funds for the so-called“war on drugs” via House Bill 1982. The Philippine Star reports that the bill’s principal author, Rep. Horacio Suansing, Jr. of Sultan Kudarat, is pushing the measure as a means to support the operations of the Department of National Defense (DND), the Bureau of Customs (BOC), and the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), so that they can be “more effective in fighting the entry of illegal drugs to the country.”

The Supreme Court, meanwhile, has ordered the release of data associated with anti-illegal drug operations, reports the Philippine Star. To date, data on the drug war operations and the deaths that resulted are being withheld by the PNP and PDEA under the guidance of the Solicitor General, ostensibly for national security reasons. The Supreme Court has noted that the Malacañang yearend report indicated that “a total of 20,322 deaths from July 1,2016 to Nov. 27, 2017 or an average of 39.46 deaths every day.”

Martial Law in Mindanao Continues to Breed Human Rights Violations

Davao Today reports that “human rights violations continue unabated” in Northern Mindanao, according to the findings by the 200-member International Fact-Finding and Solidarity Mission (IFFSM). The Mission reported numerous cases of EJKs, illegal arrests, torture, and the use of false charges for intimidation. The Mission further reported that farmer and Lumad communities received the brunt of the abuses done by the military in anti-insurgency campaigns. The Mission highlighted one victim, Aniceto Lopez Jr., who was allegedly gunned down by members of the Philippine Marines after being accused of membership in the NPA.

The Mission also reported that it was a target of harassment by military personnel and pro-military activists. Davao Today reports that they were held up in a checkpoint in Tagum and also picketed by a “peace rally” calling for the expulsion of the Mission.

As a result of the Mission, Sunstar has reported that activists are planning to bring  the documented cases of human rights violations in Northern Mindanao to the United Nations Human Rights Committee (UNHRC) and to the UN Special Rapporteur on Indigenous Peoples.

Military spokesperson for the Fourth Infantry Division (4ID), 1st Lt. Tere Ingente, has called upon human rights defenders to file official cases against perpetrators so that these will be investigated. The spokesperson has also said the military is currently verifying reported human rights violations committed in Bukidnon and Misamis Oriental.

Coca-Cola Workers Continue to Struggle for Labor Rights

Davao Today reports that Sustines Bantayan of the Kilusang Manggagawa ng Coca-Cola (KIMACO-KMU) continued their call for the reinstatement of fired contractual workers and for their regularization. This is after the release of union members who were ordered arrested by Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio for alleged charges of coercion.

The union has been demanding the regularization of the contractual workers of Coca-Cola FEMSA Davao since last month when 65 workers were fired. They have not received support from the Department of Labor and Employment despite requests for such. Anakpawis of the Makabayan Bloc has since planned to file a resolution regarding KIMACO-KMU and Coca-Cola FEMSA Davao, according to the Davao Today report.

MUST READ: Social Costs of Jail Overcrowding

Rappler published an opinion piece by economist and law student Jose Maria Marella on how overcrowding in detention facilities violates the human rights of the detainees. According the the statistics of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology as of January 2017, 97% of our prison population are detainees awaiting trial, undergoing trial, or awaiting final judgment. In effect, a bulk of the jail population are still effectively innocent until proven guilty. Their forceful removal from society, for whatever reason be it lack of bail money or gravity of the accusation, denies that person’s productivity for society and unjustly robs them of their right to liberty.

The piece is a worthy read, providing a barrage of worrying statistics that reveal the immensity of the jail congestion problem from a human rights-based perspective. Read it here.

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