by PhilRights Staff

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

Deaths from “War on Drugs” Continue to Rise

ABS-CBN reports 13 people have died in anti-illegal drug operations in Bulacan province over the course of two days.

In Quezon City, seven persons were killed in four hours of anti-crime operations, this according to the Philippine Star. The deceased suspects supposedly fought back in each instance.

Caloocan City police  meanwhile “claimed its first fatality” five months after Duterte ordered the Philippine National Police to resume its “war on drugs” operations, according to a Manila Bulletin report. The city police claims that an average of 90 drug suspects are arrested every week. It can be recalled that Caloocan police were responsible for the extra judicial killing of 17-year-old Kian delos Santos in August of last year, which led to the public outrage and the firing of the entire city police force.

Despite these developments, PNP Chief Oscar Alabayalde insists that human rights are at the forefront of the police campaign against drugs, while acknowledging that there have been 608 cases of human rights violations involving police personnel, according to a report by the Philippine Star.

Lumad Activist Gunned Down in Agusan del Sur

 Bulatlat reports that Lumad activist Beverly Geronimo from the Save Our Schools network was killed on her way home in Agusan del Sur on May 26. She was killed by two armed men in civilian clothes. The report alleges that the armed men were part of the 25th Infantry Battalion but did not elaborate on this source. The report also notes that Geronimo faced harassment from the military for her advocacy.

Manila Bulletin reports on the massacre of nine members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF) in North Cotabato on May 25. The BIAF is the armed wing of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). Karapatan claims that the BIAF members had already surrendered when they were executed on the spot. Davao Today also reported on the incident, adding that the MILF Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities (CCCH)—an organ of the Bangsamoro peace process—affirmed the alleged massacre took place and added that no drugs were found in the raid.

Bangsamoro Basic Law Rushed in House, Senate

An unnumbered bill that substitutes the Bangsamoro Basic Law was passed in the House of Representatives while the Senate passed its own version this week. A bicameral conference intended to consolidate the two versions will be convened on July 9 to 13, according to the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

Suara Bangsamoro, a Moro civil-society organization, called the passed versions a “sham” in a SunStar opinion piece. The group lamented how the autonomy supposedly granted would be too little and that Moros would have no control over the resources of the area, adding that “this BBL appoints the new Bangsamoro political entity to facilitate the wholesale selling of our territories and natural resources to foreign corporations under the guise of bringing growth and development to Bangsamoro areas.”

Mounting Calls for Raising National Minimum Wage to Php 750

Progressive groups are pushing to raise and standardize minimum wage throughout the country to Php 750. This following months of alarming inflation, indicating rising prices of consumer goods and services. The Makabayan bloc of Congress has now sponsored a bill for this purpose, according to a report from the Manila Bulletin.

Unsurprisingly, big employers are opposed to the idea, with the Philippine Star reporting that the Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP) is arguing that a wage increase will only worsen inflation.

MUST READ: Ibon Foundation Says Minimum Wage Increase Not Inflationary

A just released report from Ibon Foundation points out that, contrary to big employers’ claims, a wage hike to Php 750 will not put inflationary pressure on the economy. Indeed, it is “doable” because “firms and the economy as a whole have more than enough profits.”

While increased wages would lead to a slight cut in profits, the resulting increase in purchasing power from workers would increase demand for goods and services, improving the economy as a whole.

Read the full report here.


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