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EJKs in PH persisted in 2023, says Amnesty International

EJKs in PH persisted in 2023, says Amnesty International

Amnesty International on Wednesday called on President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. to make a categorical "policy pronouncement" against the war on drugs as it noted that extrajudicial killings (EJKs) had persisted in 2023.

In a press conference in Quezon City, Amnesty International Philippines director Butch Olano said Marcos should "make an explicit and categorical policy pronouncement to end the so-called war on drugs and EJKs."

Citing data from UP’s Dahas Project, which documents drug-related killings, Olano said there were 329 individuals killed in 2023. He also said UP’s Third World Studies Center found that 342 individuals were killed from June 2022 to June 2023.

Due to this, he said there were at least 600 people killed during the first 19 months of the Marcos administration.

In his meeting with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Berlin, Germany in March, Marcos said he is not in favor of handling the drug menace with violence.

"I diametrically opposed to handling the drug problem in that way, by confrontation, by violence, and it really requires so much, more much deeper understanding on the problem and the much deeper solution. So, yes, I think that we are also progressing when it comes to that," Marcos had told Scholz.


Olano, meanwhile, also asked Marcos to cooperate with the International Criminal Court (ICC), which is conducting an investigation into the deadly war on drugs during the administration of Rodrigo Duterte, Marcos' predecessor.

"We are calling on the Marcos government... to cooperate with the ICC investigation and to allow access to either evidence or witnesses. And to allow the investigators to come into the country," he said.

He also called on Marcos to begin the process of rejoining the ICC as well as to implement safeguards to prevent any administration from arbitrarily withdrawing from it. 

"If we are able to rejoin the ICC, then that is first in the history of ICC," Olano pointed out.

The ICC is investigating killings that transpired from November 2011 until March 2019, including those being linked to the so-called Davao Death Squad when Duterte, who assumed the presidency in 20216, was still mayor of Davao City.

The Philippines, under Duterte, withdrew from the Rome Statute, the treaty that established the ICC, in 2019 after the tribunal began a probe into the drug war followed by a formal inquiry in September 2021.

Marcos earlier said he does not recognize the jurisdiction of the ICC in the Philippines as he considers it a threat to Philippine sovereignty. 

The Department of Justice, for its part, has said that foreign entities must first obtain the approval of several government agencies before conducting official activities within the Philippines.

GMA News Online has reached out to Malacañang for its comment on AI statement but it has yet to respond as of posting time.

New war on drugs

In the same press briefing, Olano said 15% of the incidents from June 2022 to June 2023 occurred in Davao City. He also said Amnesty International is alarmed and concerned about the pronouncement of incumbent Davao City Mayor Sebastian Duterte, Duterte's son, in March where he declared a new war on drugs.

Citing the Human Rights Watch, he said that five people were immediately killed within 24 hours after the pronouncement.

“We call on the Marcos administration to initiate the investigation of Sebastian Duterte, Mayor of Davao, and other local government units who blatantly do not follow the rule of law, investigate human rights violations related to his new declaration on the war on drugs,” he said.

He also urged the administration to provide resources and funding to the policy of rehabilitation and treatment or the right to health.

GMA News Online has sought comment from Mayor Duterte through text and email but has yet to receive a response as of posting time. 

Amnesty published its 2023 report on the human rights situation in the world, which covered 155 countries and territories, including the Philippines.

A United States government report recently stated that EJKs remain a serious problem in the Philippines in 2023 and that there were no significant changes in the country’s human rights situation. —KBK, GMA Integrated News