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Dutertes Drug War Vis a Vis Human Rights

One of the main agenda of the Duterte administration is
the extinction of drugs in the Philippines. On July 1, 2016,
President Rodrigo Roa Duterte launched his war against
drugs. This, however, resulted to thousands of deaths.
As of the 3rd week of October 2016, there have been
over 4,700 deaths, both from legitimate police operations
and vigilante-style or unexplained killings.
1,714 drug personalities were killed in police operations
(as of October 25), while there are 3,001 victims of
extrajudicial or vigilante-style killings (as of October 23). 1
Different persons and organizations are against to these
actions of the Government, claiming that it infringes not only
the constitutional rights of the victims but also their human
rights. But how does it really relate to human rights?
Human Rights, its nature
Human rights are rights inherent to all human beings,
whatever our nationality, place of residence, sex, national or
ethnic origin, colour, religion, language, or any other status.
We are all equally entitled to our human rights without
interdependent and indivisible.
Provisions of International Laws on Human Rights
The Philippines is a State Party to the International
Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and is duty-bound to
address the spate of summary killings. The prohibition
against summary killings is slowly achieving the status of jus
cogens in international law.3
Sixth Congress of the United Nations on the Prevention of
Crime and the Treatment of Offenders, (1980), Resolution No.
A/CONF.87/14/Rev.1 (1981); Case of Barrios Altos v. Peru,
Series C No.75, IACHR Judgment (Mar. 14, 2001); Case of the

Rochela Massacre v. Colombia, Series C No. 163 (May 11,


As such, the right of the citizens to be protected against

such admits of no derogation, not even with a declaration of
state of lawlessness. It must be noted that the 1987
Philippine Constitution adopts generally accepted principles
of international law as part of the law of the land. 4
Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of
person.5 This was strengthened by our present Constitution
as is stated that No person shall be deprived of life, liberty,
or property without due process of law. 6
Every human being has the inherent right to life. This
right shall be protected by law and no one shall be arbitrarily
deprived of his life.7
Extrajudicial killings
In the Philippines, the term extrajudicial killings does
not have a clear definition. In Secretary v. Manalo, the
Supreme Court, citing the Rule on the Writ of Amparo, opined
that extralegal killings are killings committed without due
process of law, i.e., without legal safeguards or judicial
However, the latter case of Razon Jr. v. Tagitis revealed
that the drafters of Amparo rule decided to do away with
[the] clear textual definition of [extrajudicial killings]. 10
Despite this, the Court recognized in Razon, Jr. that
extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances, by their
nature and purpose, constitute State or private party
violation of the constitutional rights of individuals to life,
liberty and security.11

1987 Philippine Constitution, Art. 2, par. 2

Universal Declaration on Human Rights. Article 3 of the
1987 Philippine Constitution, Art. 23, par. 1
International Convention on Civil and Political Rights, Part III
Art. 6

Universal Declaration on Human Rights, Article 5

Secretary of Defense v. Manalo, G.R. No. 180906, Oct. 7,
Razon, Jr. v. Tagitis, G.R. No. 182498, Dec. 3, 2009.

Due Process of Law

Due process of law was defined as a law which hears
before it condemns, which proceeds upon inquiry and
renders judgment only after trial.12 It is the responsiveness to
the supremacy of reason, obedience to the dictates of
It is embodied in our Constitution that no person shall
be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process
of law, nor shall any person be denied the equal protection
of the laws.14 This right is universal in application to all
persons, without regard to any difference in race, color or
Due process of law has two aspects: substantive and
procedural due process. In order that a particular act may
not be impugned as violative of the due process clause,
there must be compliance with both substantive and the
procedural requirements thereof.15
With the Dutertes war on drugs, we may say that it has
violated the due process clause by depriving the accused
drug users and pushers the right to be heard and have its
day to court. After all, every accused has the right to be
presumed innocent until proven otherwise.16
Effects of the war on drugs
Other than the fear and anxiety that it has brought to
the Filipino community, the Dutertes administration war on
drugs has inspired other excesses. At least one woman and a
child has been sexually harassed in the course of operations.
On many occasions, suspected drug peddlers and drug
dependents, before having their day in court, are paraded in
public places.17
Darmouth College v. Woodward, 4 Wheaton 518
Ermita-Malate Hotel & Motel Operators Association v. City
of Manila, 20 SCRA 849
Tupas vs. Court of Appeals, 193 SCRA 597 [1991].

1987 Philippine Constitution, Art. 14, par. 2

There was even an instance where a child belonged to

the casualty on the governments war on drugs. 18
Harrowing photos have even emerged showing the
inhuman conditions inside prison in the Philippines.
The conditions are mirrored in detention facilities across
the country, according to Dr Nymia Pimentel Simbulan,
executive director of the Philippine Human Rights
Information Centre (PhilRights), also based in Quezon City.
The Philippines are a signatory of the United Nations
Convention Against Torture, which forbids the cruel or
inhuman treatment of prisoners. Unfortunately that is not
the case in many of the detention centres and jails in the
Philippines, Dr Simbulan said.19
Life has become cheap and there is no more due
process insofar as the fight against criminality is concerned.
In the wake of all these deaths, many questions are left
hanging: Are all these deaths justified? Were these
individuals criminals in fact? Do "drug suspects" deserve
summary execution? Who are behind the extrajudicial
killings? How responsible is the new administration?
The fight against criminality should not be a fight
against the rights of the people. Everyone has a right that
must be preserved. It is the Governments duty to protect
these rights and not to destroy them.
The above-mentioned rights should apply to everyone,
regardless of the status in life, of whether it is believed to be
a criminal or a drug user or pusher.
The government must adhere to the rule of law. There
has to be a way to fright criminality and drugs while letting
due process and the rule of law prevail.

With these extrajudicial killings, the human rights of the

people and the right to due process were left in vain. All
human rights should be seen as having equal importance
and of being equally essential to respect for the dignity and
worth of every person.
After all, these alleged drug users and pushers are
still human. If we disregard the rights of the people and the
mandate of law, then there may abuse of power and we
must be liable for our actions.