CHR: Duterte’s strong-arm approach contributes to culture of impunity

Jodesz Gavilan
CHR: Duterte’s strong-arm approach contributes to culture of impunity
CHR Commissioner Karen Gomez-Dumpit says the Philippines 'must change course guided by the human rights-based approach to democratic governance'

MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Human Rights on Tuesday, June 30, said the Duterte administration’s “overreliance on a strong-arm approach” has largely contributed to the culture of impunity in the Philippines.

“To improve the human rights situation, the Philippines must change course guided by the human rights-based approach to democratic governance,” CHR Commisioner Karen-Gomez Dumpit said during the 44th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UN HRC).

Dumpit’s statement comes after UN rights chief Michelle Bachelet formally presented her office’s report to the Council, which detailed violations stemming from President Rodrigo Duterte’s “overarching focus” on countering “real and inflated” national security threats. (DOCUMENT: UN Human Rights report on killings, abuses in PH)

During the session, Bachelet said that Duterte’s violent anti-illegal drug campaign is being carried out “without due regard for the rule of law, due process and the human rights of people who may be using or selling drugs.” 

Ensure accountability

Duterte’s heavily-criticized war on drugs has led to the death of more than 27,000 in both police operations and vigilante-style killings, with little to no accountability for the perpetrators. (READ: The Impunity Series)

“We share the view that while the climate of impunity can be traced from the failure to fully address past human rights violations, present attitudes and behavior towards human rights have been conditioned by harmful rhetoric of inciting hatred, vilifying legitimate dissent, and incentivizing violence, allowing impunity to acutely persist today,” Dumpit said. 

CHR hopes the Philippine government will ensure accountability over the thousands of killings and will be more transparent in its policies. (READ: 4 years on, climate of fear and impunity blocks justice for Duterte’s drug war victims

The commission also urges the government to “allow the full cooperation of the Philippine National Police, the Internal Affairs Service, and other government agencies with the CHR to enable investigations into human rights violations including the killings that have plagued the anti-drug campaign.”

Since 2016, CHR has lamented the non-cooperation of PNP in the conduct of investigations. Despite numerous requests and assurances of information-sharing, PNP has refused to grant access to documents and reports to the commission.

“Government must translate these recommendations into concrete actions and establish a timeline to deliver results in the short and medium term,” Dumpit said. 

“We cannot overemphasize the obligation of the state in upholding the ‘right to life,’ the appreciation of both the negative and positive duties to protect, promote and prevent the arbitrary deprivation of life by security forces and private parties,” Dumpit said in her closing statement.– 

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Jodesz Gavilan

Jodesz Gavilan is a writer and researcher for Rappler and its investigative arm, Newsbreak. She covers human rights and also hosts the weekly podcast Newsbreak: Beyond the Stories. She joined Rappler in 2014 after obtaining her journalism degree from the University of the Philippines.