“We hope the Vice-President can speak with the families of drug war victims, human rights lawyers, social workers and many others who can explain the legal flaws and utterly problematic framework of the current ‘drug war,’ so that she can work towards stopping the killings of poor people.”
By JANESS ANN J. ELLAO
MANILA – Vice President Leni Robredo has been called on to meet families of the victims of the war against illegal drugs to ensure that they could work together toward putting a stop to the killings, a progressive group said.
“We hope the Vice-President can speak with the families of drug war victims, human rights lawyers, social workers and many others who can explain the legal flaws and utterly problematic framework of the current ‘drug war,’ so that she can work towards stopping the killings of poor people,” said Bayan secretary general Renato Reyes Jr.
Last week, Robredo accepted President Duterte’s challenge to co-chair his war against illegal drugs, which has a death toll of at least 25,000 alleged users and street peddlers, according to media reports.
No less than Robredo said that many warned her that it may be a “trap” to destroy and humiliate her but adamantly said in Filipino that “if this is an opportunity to stop the killings of innocent people and hold to account those who carried it out, I should accept it.”
Her spokesman, in media interviews, said Robredo will push for transparency in the police operations.
Stand for human rights
Even when it was no less than the president himself who offered the job, allies of Duterte still expressed doubts on Robredo’s capacity to co-chair the drive against illegal drugs.
House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, known ally of Duterte, said the “Operation Tokhang” has now become “Operation All-Talk,” after Robredo has made it clear that she welcomes a possible United Nations involvement and the stopping of the killings.
Former police chief and now Sen. Ronald Dela Rosa reminded Robredo that she is “joining a war,” where she needs to fight and “not play cute.”
These pronouncements were found to be repulsive by progressive youth activist Alex Danday of Anakbayan, adding that apart from the inhumane treatment, “Duterte’s drug war has long been a war on the poor.”
Danday called on Robredo to stand up for human rights.
“Right now, human rights defenders, are being harassed by state forces. Their legal offices have been raided, and countless activists are being arrested almost everyday. Anakbayan enjoins VP Robredo to speak up and be part of the fight for the defense of the peoples’ democratic rights.”
Reds, too, call for support
In a statement sent to the media, the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) meanwhile expressed support for Robredo’s calling for an end to Duterte’s war against illegal drugs.
Her description of the war against illegal drugs as “ineffective,” the group said, reflects the sentiments of majority of the Filipino people but are “silenced and paralyzed by the reign of terror and violence.”
Instead of eradicating illegal drugs, the CPP assailed that the “all-out state violence” used to “make drug syndicates bow to his power,” has made President Duterte as the “drug overlord in control of all drug trafficking from the ports to the streets.”
The CPP, for its part, also expressed support for the call for an independent investigation into the grave rights situation in the country by no less than the United Nations Commission on Human Rights.
The group added, “the Party calls on the Filipino people, especially the families and friends of victims, to unite firmly to demand justice and make Duterte criminally responsible for the mass killings perpetrated under his fake war on drugs.”