Philippine Daily Inquirer –

3 January 2017

Eight out of every 10 Filipinos worry about dying in the drug war, says
the latest Social Weather Stations survey. For the new year, New
Zealanders join the Filipino people in hoping for the Duterte presidency
to decisively end extrajudicial killings in the country.

Oplan Tokhang, the Duterte administration’s war on drugs, gave impunity
for police forces to shoot drug suspects, without first attempting
arrest. Thousands of people, mostly in urban poor communities, have been
killed by the state or vigilante groups. We are very concerned to hear
of cases of mistaken identity, in which innocent people with no
connection to the drug trade and even children have been killed.

Philippine security forces have long used the counterinsurgency against
the Communist Party of the Philippines and New People’s Army as an
excuse to attack activist groups. Now Karapatan and other leading human
rights groups have documented several cases of state and vigilante
forces using the drug war as a front to arrest activists on trumped-up
charges or even violently attack them.

In October, several farmer activists, resisting land-grabbing in San
Jose del Monte, Bulacan, were arrested on drug charges, allegedly after
police officers planted evidence on them. On Dec. 5, Joel Lising, a
leader of the Tri-Wheels Organization para sa Kabuhayan, was gunned down
in Tondo, Manila, during the early hours of the morning.

We are saddened and outraged over too many civilian lives lost,
including innocent children. Hoping for an EJK-free 2017, we join human
rights groups in demanding that all those responsible for extrajudicial
killings be prosecuted and that the drug war not be used as a front to
attack more community activists.

CAMERON WALKER, Auckland Philippines Solidarity,; MURRAY HORTON, Philippine Solidarity Network of
Aotearoa,; ROD PROSSER, Wellington Kiwi Pinoy,