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Duterte scored for ‘implicitly’ supporting drug suspects’ killings in SONA

An international human rights group on Tuesday scored President Rodrigo Duterte for “implicitly” supporting the killings of alleged drug suspects during his first State of the Nation Address (SONA).

“Instead of speaking out against the sharp rise in police killings of suspected drug dealers and users and the sinister increase in extrajudicial killings of criminal suspects by unknown perpetrators, Duterte implicitly voiced support for such unlawful brutality by stating that police can rightly put illegal drug suspects 'below the ground' if necessary,” Human Rights Watch (HRW) Asia Deputy Director Phelim Kine said in a statement.

In his state address on Monday, Duterte called on the Philippine National Police (PNP) to double their efforts in the government’s fight against illegal drugs.

“We will not stop until the last drug lord, the last financier, and the last pusher have surrendered or put behind bars or below the ground, if they so wish,” the President said.

Kine said such statement goes against with Duterte’s declaration of respect for the rule of law, which he himself said should make sure, at all times, will prevail.

“President Duterte must publicly recognize that respect for rule of law and fulfilling the human rights of Filipinos extend to all Filipinos, including criminal suspects and those implicated in the drug trade,” Kine said.

Order probe instead

Kine said Duterte should have used his SONA to demand a thorough investigation into the “alarming” surge in the PNP’s killings of alleged drug dealers and users.

The HRW said Duterte puts at risk the “fundamental right to life of all Filipinos” as long as he “turns a blind eye” to summary killings.

“President Duterte’s State of the Nation Address was laced with confusing and sometimes contradictory messages. On one hand, Duterte rightly stated that ‘rule of law must at all times prevail’ and that the government is obligated to ‘fulfill the human rights of our citizens'," it said.

"Human Rights Watch encourages President Duterte to ensure that his government’s policy settings reflect those obligations,” the group added. 
Duterte, elected with more than 16 million votes, campaigned his way into the presidency promising to eliminate criminality, illegal drugs, and corruption. —ALG, GMA News