By GABRYELLE DUMALAG
MANILA — Families of victims of the drug war are up in arms over what appears to be a means for the Duterte administration to perpetuate itself beyond 2022 with their political party recently expressing support for Sen. Christopher Go and President Rodrigo Duterte’s bid for the presidency and vice presidency, respectively, in the next national elections.
“They did not prove anything. Why will they run again in the next elections? They should have been finding solutions to our problems right now instead of focusing on the next elections,” said Jane Lee, who lost her husband to President Duterte’s war against illegal drugs.
The Cusi-led faction of the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) has endorsed the Go-Duterte tandem for the 2022 national elections. This is set to be made formal at their September national convention.
Lee, who is among the families who filed a complaint against Duterte for crimes against humanity before the International Criminal Court (ICC), said that they “just want to protect themselves from the cases that they may face from the ICC —they are proving that they are greedy for power.”
Filipinos did not benefit from the drug war
Rubylin Litao, coordinator of Rise Up for Life and Rights, a support group for the families of victims of drug-related killings, said Duterte must be held accountable for these killings and Filipinos must prevent a re-election.
According to the University of the Philippines (UP)-Third World Studies Center, at least two persons are killed daily in Duterte’s bloody drug war. In the second quarter of 2021, 203 were killed, bringing the year’s total casualties to 392.
Earlier, during his taped weekly briefing, Duterte insisted in an explicit rant about human rights advocates’ criticisms on the drug war, saying that it was Filipinos and not him who benefitted from the state-sponsored drug war.
“What a barefaced lie. We have lost most in this sham war on drugs when state forces killed our loved ones, most of whom were breadwinners in our families. We have not benefited from these killings, and neither have the rest of the country. Who gains from killing the poor?” said Llore Pasco, mother of two victims of Duterte’s War on Drugs.
Cause-oriented groups said the number of deaths due to the drug war may have reached over 30,000 including those who died in vigilante-style killings.
Christine Pascual, mother of a seventeen-year-old victim said, “The business of funeral services grew because of the drug war. Funeral service owners certainly benefited from Duterte’s ‘Kill.Kill.Kill. project.’ It never benefitted me, nor the Filipino people. I have lost a son, you call that a benefit?”
Rise Up said in a statement that the president’s “lame defenses” continue because he is obviously afraid of the probability of an International Criminal Court (ICC) investigation and prosecution for his crimes against humanity.
“We are resolute in seeking justice for the victims of Duterte’s fake drug war, no matter how long it takes […] In the meantime, we must work diligently to fight all efforts of the President to remain in power or have his proxy assume the Presidency to shield him from prosecution,” said Litao.