by PhilRights Staff

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

Two Years of Duterte: Human rights calamity, says HRW

“On this day two years ago, Rodrigo Duterte took his oath of office as President of the Philippines — and immediately unleashed a human rights calamity in the guise of a ‘drug war’ that has claimed the lives of thousands of men, women and children,” said Carlos Conde, Human Rights Watch Asia Researcher in a report by The Philippine Daily Inquirer.

Conde slams the President’s second year anniversary by calling it not a day of celebration, but a day of mourning to the thousands of lives lost, murdered, and missing since Duterte took office in 2016.

Moreover, HRW calls for the International Criminal Court (ICC) and United Nations to conduct a deeper investigation of these killings and the accountability of the Duterte administration and Philippine National Police in the bloody so-called “war on drugs”


Tanauan, General Tinio mayors assassinated

As reported by CBS News and Al Jazeera Mayors Antonio Halili of Tanauan, Batangas and Ferdinand Bote of General Tinio, Nueva Ecija were both killed assassination-style by unknown perpetrators on July 2 and 3 respectively.

Famous for his “walks of shame” and public humiliation of arrested drug suspects, Halili was shot dead by a sniper in front of hundreds of his approximately 300 employees just as they sang the national anthem during a flag ceremony in a parking lot outside the city hall on the Monday of July 2.

Aside from his “perp walks” Halili was also allegedly involved in illegal drug transactions himself.

According to police reports, a bullet pierced through Halili’s cellphone inside his coat pocket into his chest, which immediately caused his death.

Only a day after Halili’s death, Mayor Bote from northern Nueva Ecija was gunned down inside a utility van by a man on a motorcycle just as the mayor’s vehicle left the National Irrigation Administration office in Cabanatuan City.

According to a report by The Philippine Star, Bote was declared dead on arrival at the MV Gallego Hospital.

Senator Trillanes expressed his opinion that these killings are brought about by the “culture of violence” under the Duterte administration, calling the Philippines the “murder capital of Asia”

Philippine National Police (PNP) Spokesperson Senior Superintendent Benigno Durana, Jr. said that no connection between the deaths of the two mayors have been established yet.

“The PNP will use all methods within the law to provide justice for the death of Mayor Bote,” Durana added.

IP groups demand DOJ drop terror tag on IP leaders

Philippine Daily Inquirer reported that indigenous peoples’ organizations have appealed to the Department of Justice to waive the petition which links more than 600 IPs and human rights defenders to the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA).

The appeal was expressed in a letter of concern submitted to Secretary of Justice Menardo Guevarra. It was endorsed “by 16 international organizations as well as 205 national organizations from 38 countries around the globe,” notes the Inquirer.

GMA News quoted the letter as saying that “the unfounded, malicious and irresponsible terrorist accusations” against the 600 named in the petition “pose serious threats to their lives, security, and liberty, and are obviously meant to harass and intimidate them.”

The petition was filed last March before a Manila Court and according to a report by The Philippine Star, the DOJ will still pursue with the petition unless the President and the government peace panel order them otherwise.

Duterte signs law on mandatory national feeding program

GMA News reported that Republic Act 11037 or Masustansyang Pagkain para sa Batang Pilipino Act was finally signed into law on June 20.

The law establishes a national feeding program for undernourished children in public day care centers, kindergarten, and elementary schools.

Rappler also reported that the law orders national government agencies to implement a feeding program with three components:

  1. Supplemental Feeding Program for Day Care Children
  2. School-based Feeding Program
  3. Milk Feeding Program

Senator Paolo Benigno Aquino IV, principal sponsor and co-author of the law in the Senate, expects that the law will greatly improve the situation of malnourishment and undernutrition in the country.

Moreover, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr said in a report by the Philippine Star, “We aim to combat hunger and undernutrition among the youngest members of our society for we consider it a sin for the government to be unable to spend billions worth of budget while around six million Filipino youths suffer from acute malnutrition.”

Must Read: The Drama King

“I voted for President Duterte,” declares Calixto V. Chikiamco.

In an opinion article for Business World, Chikiamco—a board director of the Institute for Development and Econometric Analysis— expresses regret for voting for Duterte and calls him a ‘drama king’ and his style of governance as ‘leadership by drama’ characterized by providing over-the-top solutions to complex problems.

Read the piece here.

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