Amnesty Int'l urges ASEAN leaders, PH gov't to act on 'bloodshed'

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 27) — Human rights group Amnesty International again called out the "bloodshed" in the Philippines, this time urging leaders of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member states to take action as they meet during the summit this week.

"While they meet in their comfortable surroundings, ASEAN leaders should spare a thought for the thousands of people who have been killed as part of Duterte's brutal crackdown," said Amnesty International Director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific Champa Patel.

"The vast majority are from marginalized and neglected communities, making it effectively a war on the poor," she added.

The group is calling on ASEAN leaders to consider whether the mass killings in the Philippines amount to a "serious breach" of the ASEAN Charter.

Under the ASEAN Charter, Member States shall promote and protect human rights and social justice. It also subscribes to and upholds the United Nations' international humanitarian law.

DFA spokesperson Robespierre Bolivar on Thursday responded to the statement from AI, saying that “the Philippines remains committed to combating the [drug] problem jointly with ASEAN Member States and in collaboration with the international community.”

However, he also cited ASEAN’s Position in the Statement delivered at the 59th session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) special session on March 14, 2016. Bolivar quoted ASEAN to have recognized “the sovereign right and responsibility of each country to decide on the best approach to address its drug problem, taking into consideration the context and norms of its society.”

“We welcome ASEAN’s support and understanding of our efforts in this difficult but important national endeavor,” said Bolivar.

This was not the first time Amnesty International took notice of the rising drug-related deaths in the Philippines.

In January 31, 2017, the international human rights organization produced a report on alleged extrajudicial killings in the Philippines, saying policemen were paid for each act of killing.

READ: Police paid per drug killing - Amnesty International

In its latest statement, Amnesty International also wrote an open letter addressed to Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre, calling for a "prompt, independent, impartial and effective investigations into all killings by police and unknown armed persons since the start of the government's 'war on drugs.'"

The international organization placed the killings at 9,000 since July 2016. On the other hand, Philippine National Police Director General Ronald dela Rosa placed drug-related deaths below 4,000.

READ: Drug-related deaths only under 4,000, not 7,000 - PNP Chief

The DOJ letter was signed by 20 country directors of Amnesty International.

On April 24, a Filipino lawyer filed a communication before the International Criminal Court, saying the President allows "mass murder" in the Philippines.