**This open letter to the Guardian is CHRP’s reaction and expression of grave concern, following the published Guardian article yesterday, one of many pertaining to the recent repeated threats and orders by the Philippine President Duterte to shoot and kill human rights activists.
18 August 2017
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The death toll of President Duterte’s so-called “war on drugs “ has risen even more since your report (Philippine police kill 32 in bloodiest drug raid, 17 August) with 28 more deaths resulting from police raids overnight in the capital Manila, bringing the total body count over the last three days to at least 60.
With the numbers of killings by police and unofficial death squads running into many thousands, mostly in urban slums, Duterte’s “war on drugs” has been dubbed Duterte’s “war on the poor” by human rights groups in the Philippines. Now in one of the most disturbing aspects of Duterte’s increasingly murderous administration, the president is targeting human rights activists themselves.
Extra-judicial killings and the murder of human rights activists is nothing new in the Philippines. At least 474 human rights defenders were killed during the Arroyo presidency (2001-2010) and 139 during the Aquino presidency. 50 human rights activists have been murdered already in 13 months of the Duterte presidency.
However, while previous administrations have tried to deny the impunity of the police and military that has existed around these extra-judicial killings, Duterte openly boasts about it. He has made it clear that there will be no investigations of police killings conducted in the war on drugs. And now he has pointed to human rights defenders who investigate police behaviour as targets in this “war”. This now makes the Philippines one of the deadliest country in the world to be a human rights activist.
Last April during his visit to President Duterte, as part of his hunt for post Brexit trade deals, Liam Fox cravenly declared that Britain and the Philippines had “shared values”. This shameful statement now needs to be urgently redressed. We call on the British government to issue an unequivocal condemnation of extra-judicial killings in the Philippines, and in particular the latest threat by President Duterte against human rights defenders.
Secretary, Campaign for Human Rights in the Philippines