The Philippine Commission on Human Rights (CHR) released its April 2022 “Report on investigated killings related to the anti-illegal drug campaign” on May 18, 2022. The report extends investigative findings previously published in 2021. Such independent investigations ‘have been hampered by the predilection and uncooperativeness’ of government agencies.
In the current report, the CHR calls on the Philippine National Police (PNP) to implement the following measures. First, in a publicly available report, the PNP should explain exactly what investigations and consequences it has initiated since the start of the so-called war on drugs. Second, the CHR expects bi-annual reports on the PNP’s Human Rights Affair Office’s investigations into human rights violations committed by security forces. In total, out of the 798 death cases that the CHR analyzed relevant police files were not available in 297 cases. Records were also incomplete in 500 cases. The CHR assumes that the PNP’s poor will to cooperate is based on outgoing President Rodrigo Duterte’s directive to this effect.
Also, the CHR – unlike other state institutions – was given less access to the inter-agency panel for the investigation of deaths in the so-called war on drugs established by the Department of Justice. Carlos Conde of Human Rights Watch considers the CHR report to be of great importance in the temporarily stalled investigation of the International Criminal Court. He believes that the insufficient cooperation of the Duterte administration is indicating that more transparency would incriminate the government because it is itself actively involved in human rights violations.
Until now, the Commission has been waiting for outgoing President Duterte to appoint a new CHR chair as well as new commissioners. The term of the latest CHR composition ended already on May 5, 2022. Duterte threatened to abolish the CHR in 2017; this would have, however, violated the Philippine constitution. A subsequent decision of the Congress to radically cut down the already low budget of the CHR was prevented.
Photo © Raffy Lerma