Speaking on behalf of the World Council of Churches Commission of the Churches on International Affairs and the Ecumenical Voice for Human Rights and Peace in the Philippines (Ecuvoice), Norma Dollaga, a deaconess of the United Methodist Church in the Philippines and of the Promotion of Church People’s Response, provided an oral statement at the General Debate on Item 3 before the 42nd Session of UN Human Rights Council today, September 16, 2019, on the unresolved cases of extrajudicial killings and arbitrary arrest and detention in connection to the Philippine government’s “war on drugs.”

Since President Duterte took power in 2016, there now have been 28,000 victims of drug-related killings. The past three years have seen thousands of poor and disadavantaged individuals killed in countless police operations in many urban poor communities in Manila and other parts of the country. 

“During police anti-drug operations in shantytowns, residents were rounded up even at nighttime, arrested and detained under no definite evidences and without due process,” Dollaga said in her statement before the UN HRC. 

Once arrested, victims are brought to severely congested jails where the inmates take turns in lying down to sleep, where poor diet is the norm and infectious diseases are prevalent, she added. 

“The prevailing pattern of arbitrary detention wherein torture both physical and mental are inflicted on detainees, wherein for tens of thousands of pesos, freedom can be bought without any receipt issued by the arresting police officers,” Dollaga further stated. 

The WCC and Ecuvoice called on member states of the United Nations and the Human Rights Council to help ensure justice to all the victims of arbitrary detention. “We call on the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention to call on the Philippine government to allow them to conduct country visits so as to see the situation on the ground,” Dollaga concluded.

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