Increasing opposition to Duterte’s war on drugs: UN official

Reuters – http://www.arabnews.com/node/1052056/world

10 February 2017

MANILA: A UN human rights investigator says there are signs of mounting
opposition within the Philippines to President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on
drugs, with police operations on hold and the Church getting critical of
the campaign.

Agnes Callamard, the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or
arbitrary executions, however, said the thousands of killings in the
campaign had given rise to a sense of impunity, which could lead to
increased lawlessness and violence.

More than 7,600 people, mostly drug users and small-time dealers, have
been killed since Duterte took office on June 30, about a third of them
in police operations. Callamard said she knew of only four court cases
seeking justice for the victims.

“The difference between the number of reported killings and the number
of court cases is unbelievable,” she told Reuters in Bangkok. “It’s very
unusual for that degree of impunity to remain restricted to one kind of
crime or one type of community.”

The war on drugs has been a signature policy of Duterte, who remains
popular in opinion polls.

But Callamard, a human rights expert from France who took up the UN post
in August, said opposition to the drug war was increasing and had
reached a “tipping point.”

“There is an increasing awareness on the part of the Filipino people
that the war on drugs could hurt them,” she said. “The surveys that are
being done indicate support for the president…but critique the war on
drugs.”

One of the Philippines’ top polling agencies, Social Weather Stations,
said after a survey of 1,500 people in early December that most were
satisfied with Duterte’s rule. But 78 percent said they were worried
that they or someone they knew would be a victim of an extra-judicial
killing.

In a series of reports last year, Reuters showed that the police had a
97-percent kill rate in their drug operations, the strongest proof yet
that police were summarily shooting drug suspects.

Separately, the Philippines’ environment minister vowed not to buckle to
mounting pressure from a mining sector reeling from her shutting more
than half of the country’s mines on environmental protection grounds.

Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Regina Lopez has ordered the
closure of 23 of the country’s 41 mines, most of which produce nickel
ore, and the suspension of five more due to violations uncovered during
a lengthy environmental audit.

Mines ordered for closure include those run by Hinatuan Mining Corp, a
unit of top Philippine nickel ore producer Nickel Asia Corp, and
BenguetCorp. Nickel Mines Inc.

The decision has rocked the global nickel market as the Philippines, an
archipelago of more than 7,100 islands, is the world’s biggest exporter
of nickel ore.

In another development, the country’s defense minister said the
Philippines is certain of “very strong” links between Daesh and
home-grown militants and is concerned about regional repercussions from
tension between China and the new US administration.

Intelligence from various sources had shown rebels in the southern
Philippines had been communicating with Daesh, and funds were being sent
from the Middle East via conventional mechanisms commonly used by
overseas Filipino workers, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said in an
interview.

Some statements about China by advisers to US President Donald Trump
were “very troubling,” he said, adding that defense agreements with
Washington would make US troops based temporarily in the Philippines
“magnets for retaliation.”
“We are concerned if war breaks out and it is near us we will be
involved whether we like it or not,” Lorenzana told Reuters.