MANILA, Philippines – More than 400 members of the state-run University of the Philippines (UP) signed a statement condemning the recent extrajudicial killings of drug suspects in the country.
"While we recognize the exigent need to end all criminality, including drug-related offenses, we do not accept that this can be accomplished with utter disregard for human dignity and rights," the signatories said.
"Human rights are inherent entitlements of all individuals – there are no qualifications, and no disqualifications. When these protections are lost, it is usually the poor and marginalized who become the victims," they added.
The statement has been signed by 411 UP students, teachers, staff, and alumni as of Wednesday, August 17.
Prominent signatories include Sylvia Estrada Claudio, chair of UP’s Department of Women and Development Studies; and former socioeconomic secretary Solita Monsod, professor emeritus of the UP School of Economics.
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In their statement, members of the UP community pointed out that the Philippine government signed international human rights treaties, and "is bound by their concomitant obligations."
The Universal Declaration on Human Rights, for one, upholds "the right to life."
At the same time, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights "further affirms that this 'shall be protected by law,' and that 'no one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his life.'"
The UP community members said they want to remind the government that it needs to uphold the human rights "of all its citizens." This is because their school is "committed to the ideal of social justice."
They said: "We demand that President Rodrigo R. Duterte put an end to all extrajudicial killings posthaste, ensure their immediate investigation, and arrest and prosecute the perpetrators. We enjoin the government to adhere to the due process that is every citizen's entitlement, including suspected criminals."
Their statement comes as hundreds die in the face of Duterte's bloody war on drugs.
Police have shot dead 665 suspects with vigilantes killing 889 others in an anti-drug crackdown, the Philippine police chief told a Senate hearing earlier this week. – with reports from Agence France-Presse/Rappler.com
Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He obtained his MA Journalism degree from Ateneo and later finished MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at email@example.com.