Stop deadly purge
of civilians in Cordillera, Philippines -ICHRP
March 2, 2021
Mass execution policy ‘Oplan Tokhang’ to be used
vs. media, critics, human rights defenders
MANILA – “The
February 24, 2021, resolution by 47 senior police and government
officials in the Cordillera Region calling for the notorious ‘Oplan
Tokhang’ to be deployed against ‘known left-leaning personalities in
the government, media, and other entities’ demonstrates that the
Duterte government is brazenly defiant of its human rights
obligations”, said Mr. Peter Murphy of the International Coalition
for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP).
This Resolution was made
at the same time that Justice Secretary Guevarra was telling the
United Nations Human Rights Council that “the PH strongly emphasizes
its legal and judicial system, its domestic accountability
mechanisms are functioning as they should.”
community must know that ‘Oplan Tokhang’ is the method used by
police to kill tens of thousands of civilians in the mis-named ‘war
on drugs’ over the last five years,” said Mr Murphy. “This
Resolution demonstrates that the Philippine state is planning to
systematically kill its civilian critics. It is not ‘knock (on the
door) and plead’, but kick in the door and shoot.
Last December, the
International Criminal Court’s (ICC) Office of the Prosecutor said
there is a “reasonable basis” to believe that crimes against
humanity were committed in the Duterte administration’s drug war
The ICC identified ‘Oplan
Tokhang’ as a way for authorities to kill civilians through a drug
watch list wherein “some of those targeted also included persons who
had previously ‘surrendered’ to the police.
In the ‘war on drugs’,
local government officials are required to provide lists of
residents allegedly using or dealing drugs, or just ‘troublemakers’.
These lists are provided to the police, who then eliminate the
targets without any regard to due process. Local government
officials switch off CCTV on the nights of these police raids. In
the one case where two police were prosecuted for murder – that of
17 year-old Kian De Los Santos – in August 2017, the Barangay
Captain had failed to switch off the CCTV.
The Cordillera officials
decided that “this resolution be elevated to the Regional Peace and
Order Council for their concurrence and adoption and convince local
government units (LGUs) to support this and be brought to the
attention of all governors and Mayors in the Cordillera Region”.
“While the bureaucratic
machine tries to bring together all the elements for this program of
civilian repression, there is time for the international community
to say no, and they can say it now at the 46th Session of the UN
Human Rights Council,” said Mr Murphy.
When the media revealed
this resolution last week, the Cordillera Regional Director of the
Commission on Human Rights, Atty Romel Daguimol, withdrew his
signature, declaring that the resolution was in conflict with CHR
policy. “We continue to stand that activism is not a crime. People
should be free to express legitimate dissent and grievances for the
government to act on.”
“The other 46 police and
other government officials must likewise withdraw their signatures,”
said Mr Murphy.
“ICHRP strongly supports
the many statements coming from media organisations, the National
Union of Journalists, the Karapatan alliance for Peoples Rights, and
members of Philippine Congress who condemned the resolution, and who
uphold the basic democratic and human rights of the people despite
the massive threats they have to endure under the Duterte
government”, Mr Murphy concluded.