Tuesday, July 07, 2020

Filipinos and Duterte's Law

In the Philippines, the head of state holds office for a six-year term but is barred from running for reelection.

Last week, the United Nations Human Rights Council chief Michelle Bachelet released a report that characterized Duterte's rule as "heavy handed," which resulted in killings that are "widespread, systematic and on-going." The report detailed how extrajudicial killings were carried out with near impunity.

"Laws and policies to counter national security threats and illegal drugs have been crafted and implemented in ways that severely impact human rights. This has resulted in thousands of killings, arbitrary detention and vilification of those who challenge these severe human right violations," said Bachelet. 

Since Duterte was elected to the presidency in 2016, more than 27,000 suspected drug peddlers have been killed in a mix of police operations and vigilante killings. Additionally, almost 250 human rights defenders — including unionists, lawyers, journalists and environmental rights defenders — have been killed.

The release of the UN report coincided with Duterte's signing of a counterterrorism bill into law over the weekend. The legislation has been widely contested for its vague definition of terrorism and the wide powers its gives security forces to arrest suspected terrorists without a warrant and detain them without charges for a longer period of time. Critics warned that with the administration's track record of disregarding human rights and civil liberties in enforcing law and order, this new law would be used to further quell legitimate dissent.


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