Manila, the UN will open an investigation into the deaths in the war on drugs

The Human Rights Council voted in favor of a draft resolution presented by Iceland.  The Philippines has brought to over 6,600 the number of official deaths in the anti-DRUGS campaign wished by President Duterte.  For activists and the media, the victims are between 27 and 30 thousand.


Manila (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The UN will open an investigation into the growing number of killings in the Philippines, including those due to the violent anti-drug campaign launched by the Philippine president, Rodrigo Duterte.  The UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) voted last night in favor of its first ever resolution on the Philippines.  Presented by Iceland, the text obtained the favorable vote of 18 countries.  The 14 against included China, while 15 nations - including Japan - abstained.

The latest figures from the Philippine National Police (PNP) have led to over 6,600 the number of official deaths in the "drug war" wished by the president.  1,600 people have died in the last six months.  According to media reports and human rights activists,  number of victims is between 27,000 and 30,000, counting the murders committed by vigilantes.

NGOs denounce that the police terrorize poor communities, using "checklists" to identify drug addicts or drug dealers with the help of informants, and then raid the homes of suspects.  The police deny it, saying that all their killings were in self-defense.  Myca Ulpina, a 3-year-old girl who died last June 29 near Manila, is among the last and youngest known victims.  Police say her father, Renato, had used his daughter as a human shield.

Activists welcomed with joy and relief the results of the vote that took place in Geneva.  "This is a very significant addition to the growing demand to stop the killings and get justice."  Thus stated Rubylin Litao, deaconess of the United Methodist Church and coordinator of Rise Up for Life and for Rights.  The group unites human rights activists, Christian leaders and families of people who lost their lives due to anti-drug operations or extrajudicial killings.  "Despite the expected arrogance, the will to belittle and other lies by Duterte and his murdering accomplices - continues Litao -, we challenge this administration to show and use its misplaced strength in responding to its responsibilities".

Duterte's spokesman, Salvador Panelo, questions the validity of a resolution not supported by the majority of the council members, stating that the Filipinos overwhelmingly support the president's leadership and approach.  "The resolution is grotesquely one-sided, outrageously narrow and maliciously biased," said Panelo last night.

UNHCR's High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet is now mandated to prepare a comprehensive report on the human rights situation in the Philippines.  The investigation will then be presented to the Council in June 2020. The resolution urges the Manila government to prevent extrajudicial executions and cooperate with UN offices and mechanisms, facilitating visits to the country and "refraining from any act of intimidation or  retaliation".