Monday, August 22, 2016

The Daily Tribune News - It’s still genocide

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Monday, 22 August 2016 00:00 

Toughie Rody can’t just brush aside being a member of human civilization the way he has been taking cavalier potshots at the United Nations (UN) or anybody who gets to raise the issue of human rights before him.

Even the mere of threat of killing those whom he considered as criminals presupposes his toleration of summary killings.

It was the turn of special rapporteurs of the United Nations (UN) to give Rody a piece of their mind regarding the way his war on drugs is being undertaken.

A UN statement bearing the statements of the two rapporteurs started with a warning: “Allegations of drug-trafficking offences should be judged in a court of law, not by gunmen on the streets.”

It said UN rights experts are urging the “government of the Philippines to put an end to the current wave of extrajudicial executions and killings in the context of an intensified anti-crime and anti-drug campaign targeting drug dealers and users.”

It noted that more than 850 people have been killed between May 10, when Rodrigo Duterte was elected President of the Philippines vowing to crackdown on crime, and August 11. Over 650 were killed in the last six weeks alone.

Independent sources of the toll on war on drugs put the figure higher of up to 1,500 dead since Duterte took over the reins of power.

The Philippine National Police has a running tally of those killed in police operations and the other vigilante-style deaths which are being termed derisively as carton justice due to the cardboard where an “I am a drug pusher” is scribbled and placed near the dead body.

Despite the tally, no charges except for one or two “surrenderers” have been filed before the courts.

UN Special Rapporteur on summary executions, Agnes Callamard said Philippine authorities should adopt with immediate effect the necessary measures to protect all persons from targeted killings and extrajudicial executions.

She reminded Rody that claims to fight illicit drug trade do not absolve the government from its international legal obligations and do not shield state actors or others from responsibility for illegal killings.

“The State has a legally binding obligation to ensure the right to life and security of every person in the country, whether suspected of criminal offenses or not,” she added.

Rody considers such reminders from the UN as “stupid interventions” on the affairs of the country when human rights is not only an international commitment but an obligation to the human race.

UN Special Rapporteur on the right to health, Dainius Puras said however necessary, responses to the illicit drug trade must be carried out in full compliance with national and international obligations and should respect the human rights of each person.

Puras also made reference to the mass slays of drug addicts who Duterte had said were mostly beyond rehabilitation as if justifying their execution.

Concerning drug-dependency, this should be treated as a public health issue and justice systems that decriminalize drug consumption and possession for personal use as a means to improve health outcomes, Puras said.

During his election campaign and first days in office, Duterte repeatedly urged law enforcement agencies and the public to kill people suspected of trafficking drugs who don’t surrender, as well as people who use drugs.

The UN statement said Duterte was heard “promising impunity for such killings and bounties for those who turn in drug dealers ‘dead or alive.’”

Callamard said directives of this nature are irresponsible in the extreme and amount to incitement to violence and killing, a crime under international law. It is effectively a license to kill. “Intentional lethal use of force is only allowed when strictly unavoidable in order to protect life and should not be used for common policing objectives,” she said.

“Incentives to violence such as bounties or the promise of impunity also seriously contravene the rule of law and must end,” the UN experts said. Even Duterte’s spokesman Martin Andanar appears unable to comprehend or is unwilling to what the UN wishes to convey to toughie Rody.

“President Duterte has time and again warned us during the (election) campaign that if you vote for me, this is going to be bloody,” he said, adding that there is “no war without casualties.”

The reasoning of toughie Rody and his Palace cohorts is as unsound as the warped minds of the drug dependents they brand as beyond redemption.

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Uphold due process, defend the Constitution | Inquirer Opinion

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ALL FILIPINOS, whether public officials or ordinary citizens, have the right to due process. It is a human right guaranteed by the Philippine Constitution that President Duterte swore to uphold and defend.

It is sorely disappointing to see the President disregard this constitutional right as he voices no objection to the killing of suspected drug pushers by the police or by vigilantes, and accuses police officers, local executives, judges and other officials of being drug lords or their protectors without the benefit of a thorough, completed criminal investigation. Without presenting solid evidence to back up his public allegations, President Duterte, the most powerful public official of our land, has embarked on a chilling, sickening name-and-shame campaign that is in effect an unjust, unlawful and unconstitutional trial by publicity.

The most recent target of this campaign of the President is newly-elected and installed Sen. Leila de Lima. He has publicly accused her of having links to the illegal drugs trade and he has insinuated that her election campaign was funded with drug money.

This public shaming came on the eve of a Senate investigation that Senator De Lima had called to look into the spate of extrajudicial killings that have been spurred by the President’s declaration of war on drugs. The figures are simply too disturbing: 665 killings by the police, 889 by unknown assailants in a span of six weeks, per the Inquirer’s report (“UN exec accepts Palace challenge to visit PH,” Front Page, 8/20/16), and counting.

The accusation smacks of vindictiveness. It may be recalled that when she was still justice secretary and, before that, head of the Commission on Human Rights, Senator De Lima called for a probe on the vigilante killings by a group called the Davao Death Squad which was linked to President Duterte who was then mayor of Davao City. Of course, she was just doing her job as mandated by law. We thus find it alarming that she is now being publicly humiliated and pilloried precisely for doing her job.

The public shaming which, to repeat, is trial by publicity, does have a chilling effect on free and intelligent discourse which is essential to democracy.

President Duterte himself recently upped the stake in favor of freedom of information by signing an executive order binding on all officials and employees in the executive branch of the Philippine government, for them to make accessible public documents to the people. We thus expect him to be the first to uphold the law and allow the free market of ideas to flourish to better build an informed citizenry. Muzzling contrary opinions has no place in a democratic and civilized society such as ours.

We stand by the Senate of the Philippines as it pursues its mandate and duty to “check and balance” the executive branch, and to conduct, as part of its oversight function, investigations in aid of legislation on matters of public interest.

We stand by Sen. Leila de Lima in her decision to proceed with the Senate inquiry into the extrajudicial killings associated with the campaign against illegal drugs, and in her advocacy to protect human rights, including the right to due process.

We support our law enforcers who risk their lives to maintain law and order and protect our lives and property and human rights.

But we urge President Duterte to refrain from using his office to intimidate those who dare disagree with him; to conduct himself like a true statesman; to respect the privacy of individuals, including public officials; and to elevate the quality of public discourse. The presidency should never be used as a platform for revenge; it demeans the highest office of the land, and diminishes its dignity and credibility.

As well, to impugn a woman’s character by the same actions that would otherwise elevate a man’s status in society, and to apply a different standard of morality on a lady senator’s alleged extramarital relations from that of a President’s own well-known dalliances, is to box one’s self in stereotypes and sexist attitudes. Surely, with a daughter in public office, President Duterte knows better than to confine women in his box of antiquated roles and expectations.

We call on all Filipino men and women of good will to be discerning in responding to intemperate reports and issues raised, especially in social media. Let not these reports and issues bring out the worst in us. Let us pursue our discourse in a manner worthy of emulation by our youth and children.

Despite severe pressure from several quarters, let us be steadfast in respecting the rule of law; let us uphold due process and defend our Constitution, in words and in deeds.

This piece was signed by Rosanita Serrano, Narzalina “Narz” Lim, and 15 other women.

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Sunday, August 21, 2016

United Nation issues warning vs Duterte

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United Nations (UN) human rights has warn President Rodrigo Duterte that “state actors” could be held responsible over hundreds of extrajudicial killings in a controversial anti-drug crackdown in the Philippines.

“Claims to fight illicit drug trade do not absolve the government from its international legal obligations and do not shield state actors or others from responsibility for illegal killings,” the U.N. Special Rapporteur on summary executions.

The UN experts urged Philippine president “to put an end to the current wave of extrajudicial executions and killings.”

“Incentives to violence such as bounties or the promise of impunity also seriously contravene the rule of law and must end,” the statement read, with reference to Duterte’s “dead or alive” directive against drug pushers and users.

The warning came a day after Duterte called the U.N. “stupid” and vowed to continue his anti-narcotics offensive despite mounting criticism, including from U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon.

In a press release by UN Human Rights’ Office of the High Commissioner, it noted that 850 people have already been killed since Duterte won the presidency last May. According to reports, 650 were killed in the last six weeks alone.

However, Philippine National Police itself in the Senate hearing Thursday said the death toll in Duterte’s “drug war” has reached above 1,500, with 889 executed by vigilante groups.

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Seafarer ‘Protection Act’ shields ship owners, not seafarers | Inquirer Global Nation

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01:55 AM August 20th, 2016

Filipinos are the most mistreated seafarers on the high seas. They work long hours every single day on tankers and cargo and cruise ships far away from their families for long periods of time for little money.

When Filipino crew members are injured and disabled in accidents or due to the cumulative trauma caused by harsh long-term work conditions, Filipinos are required to return home and accept the minimal payments outlined in a modest schedule of benefits published by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA). The skimpy benefits pale in comparison to compensation awards in the U.S. They are an embarrassment to the labor agency and employers of any civilized country.

Recently, some insurance entities in the UK hailed the Philippines’ new Seafarers’ Protection Act, which in reality does not protect the Filipino seafarer.

Already paltry benefits

As it is, a standard POEA employment contract limits a maimed crew member who, for example, loses his or her entire hand, by amputation between the wrist and elbow joint, in a gruesome work-related accident, to a total maximum benefit of only $29,480. Such a paltry amount hardly compensates the crew member for his past and future lost wages, pain and suffering, mental anguish and disfigurement for the rest of his life.

Under the POEA, death benefits are as little as $50,000 plus $7,000 for each minor child, not exceeding four in total. So the surviving family members of a crew member with two children killed at sea by the gross negligence of a cruise line employer receive a total payment of $65,000 including a nominal payment of $1,000 toward the family’s funeral and burial expenses.

Once a crew member or or their families receive a death or disability payment, they waive the right to file a claim against the cruise line employer and operator of the cruise line. This is in violation of the International Labor Organization (ILO).

Such low payments trivialize the worth of a Filipino life. It is an insignificant if not meaningless amount in the eyes of the billion dollar, non-tax paying U.S. based cruise industry. Compare, for example, the money collected by the far cat cruise executives here in Miami (like NCL executive Frank Del Rio who collected over $31,000,000 in 2015).

Cheaper life?

A common thought of a cruise line risk adjuster or P&I representative when a davit fails and a lifeboat from a cruise ship falls several stories into the sea is that it’s cheaper to have a Filipino aboard who’s killed than any other nationality.

Further injustice occurs when crew members suffer from ill health such as high blood pressure, heart problems and other sicknesses caused by the stress of hard work and long working hours. Manning agencies and cruise line employers are increasingly refusing to acknowledge that the injuries and illness suffered by crew members are “work-related,” a requirement for the payment of such benefits.

Crew members must submit to an examination of a single doctor, retained by the employer, who often assign a low impediment percentage, resulting in a minimal benefit, or claim that the illness pre-existed the crew member’s shipboard work, resulting in no payment. Company doctors are known to work with an eye toward pleasing the employer and its lawyers, at the detriment of the injured seafarer.

Even when a crew member receives an award by the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC), maritime employers often choose to appeal the award and seek a deduction.

Asignacion case

Several years ago, I wrote about the plight of a Filipino seafarer Lito Asignacion who worked as a senior engine fitter on board a bulk carrier who sustained serious burns of his abdomen and legs when scalding water overflowed a tank doe to unsafe working conditions on the vessel.

The crew member underwent extensive and painful medical treatment in the burn units of West Jefferson Medical Center and Baton Rouge General Medical Center in Louisiana, U.S.A. Asignacion was treated and underwent skin grafting burns of 35 percent of his body.

Burn unit treating an injured seafarer. JIM WALKER

Mr. Asignacion thereafter returned to the Philippines where he continued undergoing medical treatment at a number of hospitals and with a number of doctors who performed plastic surgery. He is now unemployed, disabled and scarred for life.

His employer argued that under the POEA, the burned crew member suffered a grade 14 disability, which would entitle him to only 3.74 percent of USD $50,000. The Filipino Labor Board agreed and awarded Asignacion just $1,870.

The labor board made a point of stating that the shipping company had offered the disabled crew member $25,000 “out of compassion and generosity,” implying that the injured crew member had foolishly rejected the “generous” offer.

The vindictive labor board also cited language from a prior decision that compensation for seriously injured Filipino seafarers is low because Filipino seafarers are perceived as crew members “who complain too much.”

Patronizing sentiment

This patronizing and inherently evil sentiment is alive and well in the cruise industry today. Insurance entities like protection and indemnity clubs in the UK who are responsible for minimizing payments by its rich ship-owner members are taking steps to make it even harder for Filipino crew members to receive reasonable compensation for career-ending injuries and illnesses.

Recently, a claims director at UK P&I Club in a P&I Club publication praised the new Seafarers’ Protection Act. Ironically enough, the new law does not protect the Filipino seafarer from the greedy cruise lines, or the P&I companies and defense lawyers who do their bidding, but targets who the P&I Club villainize as the “ambulance-chasing” lawyers who pursue “spurious claims.”

The claims representative, Tony Nicholson, argues that the new “Seafarers’ Protection Act is designed to protect Filipino seafarers and their families from the unscrupulous practices of such lawyers and came into force on 21 May 2016. Under the new law, any individual or group — whether lawyers or not — found to be soliciting directly or via agents will be imprisoned for one–two years and/or fined PHP 50,000–100,000 (approximately US$1–2,000).”

The UK P&I Club further proposes permitting maritime employers, which are ordered by arbitration panels to pay benefits to the disabled seafarers, permission not to pay the awards pending an appeal. This will encourage the wealthy employers and cruise lines to place financial pressure on the injured seafarers and force them to accept cheap settlements.

As the sad case of Lito Asignacion demonstrates, the Filipino labor system already permits maritime employers and their insurance companies to abandon those seafarers who have sacrificed and suffered greatly for their families. Imprisoning lawyers, who advocate greater rights for seafarers, and permitting maritime employers to withhold the payments of arbitration awards, make a further mockery of a system, which works to protect the rich while screwing the injured and impoverished seafarer.

Jim Walker is a principal at Walker & O’Neill Maritime Lawyers in South Miami, Florida.

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DLSU Law Dean Diokno: 'Glaring violations of human rights' rampant today

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The online news portal of TV5

MANILA, Philippines - "Glaring violations of human rights" are happening in the country every day, particularly in the Philippine National Police's implementation of President Rodrigo Duterte's war against illegal drugs.

This was the lament of Atty. Jose Manuel Diokno, the dean of the College of Law at the De La Salle University, on Friday during a media training on monitoring the judiciary.

He zeroed in on the practice where police go from house to house, knock on residents' doors, and ask if they can search these homes.

"And then if they say no, the police will say, 'Well, if you aren't hiding anything, why don't you want us to search, while your neighbors allowed us to search?' So now you feel guilty. And then after that, they will say, 'Please list the names of all those living here over 18 years old'," Diokno said.

All of these were human rights violations, he noted.

"Those are all excessive use of authority because that's not how the police are supposed to operate. What are the police supposed to do? Investigate crimes. File, do their own investigation as to who are using drugs, pushing drugs, and other crimes. Your consent to a search is only valid if it is knowingly, intelligently, and voluntarily (given). If the police are that intrusive, na talagang in effect, they are impliedly insisting, using psychological tactics to induce you to consent, that again is illegal," he explained.

Worse, extrajudicial killings were happening on a daily basis. 

He pointed out that one of the basic human rights was the right to life, and that the government had to respect that, not only because it was bound by the 1987 Constitution, but also because it was a signatory to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), among other treaties.

The ICCPR is the "first multilateral treaty to recognize the inherent dignity of the human person." The 1966 document also obliges nations "to promote universal respect for, and observance of, human rights and freedoms."

Under the Second Optional Protocol to the ICCPR, which the Philippines signed in 2006 and ratified in 2007 "without reservation," states "are required to renounce the use of the death penalty definitively." 

According to Diokno, Congress repealed capital punishment in 2006, the same year it signed the treaty.

But President Duterte had previously declared his intent to have it restored, and Congress has been cooperative, with bills for the imposition of the death penalty on certain heinous crimes filed both in the House of Representatives and the Senate.

Despite the bleak picture, Diokno urged the media to continue fighting for human rights.

He quoted his father, the late Senator Jose Diokno, as saying, "No cause is more worthy than the cause of human rights... they are what makes us human. Deny them and you deny our humanity."

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"In a nine-page decision penned by Justice Estela M. Perlas-Bernabe in AC No. 11139 (Philcomsat Holdings Corporation v. Lokin, Jr. and Labastilla), the Court suspended Atty. Luis K. Lokin, Jr. from the practice of law for three years and Atty. Sikini C. Labastilla for a year for violating Canons 7 and 11 of the Code of Professional Responsibility (CPR)."

See -

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MANILA - The Supreme Court has suspended two lawyers for compromising the integrity of the judiciary by maliciously imputing corrupt motives against the Sandiganbayan in connection with their issuance of a P2 million check purportedly in exchange for a temporary restraining order (TRO) favoring the Philippine Communications Satellite Corporation (Philcomsat).

In a nine-page decision penned by Justice Estela M. Perlas-Bernabe in AC No. 11139 (Philcomsat Holdings Corporation v. Lokin, Jr. and Labastilla), the Court suspended Atty. Luis K. Lokin, Jr. from the practice of law for three years and Atty. Sikini C. Labastilla for a year for violating Canons 7 and 11 of the Code of Professional Responsibility (CPR).

Canon 11 provides that "[a] lawyer shall observe and maintain the respect due to the courts and to judicial officers and should insist on similar conduct by other", while Canon 7 commands every lawyer to "at all times uphold the integrity and dignity of the legal profession."

Lokin, Jr. was meted the graver penalty as he was the one directly responsible for the making of the subject checkbook entry.

"[R]espondents compromised the integrity of the judiciary by maliciously imputing corrupt motives against the Sandiganbayan through the subject checkbook entry. Clearly, respondents also violated Canon 7 of the CPR and, thus, should be held administratively liable therefor," the Court ruled.

The case stemmed from the complaint of Philcomsat Holdings Corp., represented by Erlinda I. Bildner. During the 2007 Senate inquiry on the anomalies that plagued the Philcomsat group of companies, it was learned that there was an entry in complainant's checkbook stub which reads "Cash for Sandiganbayan, TRO, potc-philcomsat case - P2,000,000."

The check, it turned out, was issued in connection with complainant's injunction case against the Philippine Overseas Telecommunciations Corporation (POTC) before the Sandiganbayan, which was filed by Atty. Lokin, Jr.'s group, as its representatives, with Atty. Labastilla as its external counsel (POTC case).

The Sandiganbayan, motu proprio (on its own), initiated indirect contempt proceedings against respondents and on May 7, 2009 found them guilty of indirect contempt and sentenced them to each pay a fine of P30,000 and imprisonment for six months.

The Integrated Bar of the Philippines, which conducted a separate investigation, found Lokin, Jr. administratively liable and recommended his suspension for one year but absolved Labastilla.

The High Court concurred with the IBP Investigating Commissioner's findings on Lokin but disagreed with Labastilla's absolution.

The High Court agreed with the IBP's finding that the subject checkbook entry contained a contumacious imputation against the Sandiganbayan, i.e., that a check in the amount of P2,0000,000.00 was issued and given to the Sandiganbayan in order to secure a favorable TRO in the POTC case.

It stressed, among others, that the records show Lokin, Jr. was the one who caused the making of the subject checkbook entry and he never denied participation and knowledge of the issuance of the check and the consequent creation of the subject checkbook entry.

However, the High Court held that it does not agree with IBP's finding on Labastilla and "is more inclined to concur with the Sandiganbayan's findings in the indirect contempt case that Atty. Labastilla also had a hand, direct or indirect, in the creation of the subject checkbook entry considering he was complainant's external counsel who applied for the TRO in the POTC case."

It added Labastilla admitted receipt of the proceeds of the P2 million check "although allegedly for legal fees but with no supporting evidence therefor."

The High Court stressed that it is every lawyer's duty to maintain the high regard to the profession by staying true to his oath and keeping his actions beyond reproach. It reiterated that "all lawyers should be bound not only to safeguard the good name of the legal profession, but also to keep inviolable the honor, prestige, and reputation of the judiciary."

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The INCB speaks out against death and impunity in the Philippines, as over 700 suspects are murdered

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On the 2nd August 2016, more than 350 civil society organisations from across the globe signed an open letter to the heads of the UN drug control authorities calling on them to urge the government of the Philippines to bring an end to the flood of extrajudicial killings taking place in its territory. Since 10th May, over 700 suspected drug offenders have died at the hands of Filipino police and vigilante groups. President Duterte has explicitly ordered citizens to kill ‘drug addicts’. UN drug control bodies had hitherto remained silent in the face of these atrocities, which have also taken place – albeit on a smaller scale – in Indonesia, where 14 suspected drug offenders were executed last year, and several were killed by firing squad in the past week.

Following the open letter from civil society, which included the support of many prominent drug control and human rights groups, the INCB and the UNODC were quick to act. Mr Werner Sipp, President of the INCB, has published a powerful statement addressed to the government of the Philippines, and has been supported in a similar publication by the Executive Director of UNODC, Mr Yury Fedotov. In its most outspoken criticism of repressive drug policy to date, the INCB declared that, should media reports regarding violence and murder against drug offenders in the Philippines prove accurate, ‘this would constitute a serious breach of the legal obligations to which the Philippines is held by the three UN drug control conventions and by the corpus of international legal instruments to which the country has adhered’.

Referring to the conventions and their commitment to due legal process for all drug offenders and alternatives to punishments for people who use drugs, Mr Sipp then called on the government of the Philippines to ‘issue an immediate and unequivocal condemnation and denunciation of extrajudicial actions against individuals suspected of involvement in the illicit drug trade or of drug use’.

It should be noted again that this represents an unprecedented intervention by the INCB in cases where countries have contravened international law under the guise of drug control and, should it continue, bodes well for the future of the UN drug control authorities.

Keep up-to-date with drug policy developments by subscribing to the IDPC Monthly Alert

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Friday, August 19, 2016

Cutting corners on due process | Inquirer Opinion

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CANBERRA—Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno cut President Duterte down to size and put him in his place when she responded icily to his public statements derogating the judiciary.

“She will no longer say anything on the matter,” said Theodore Te, the chief of the Supreme Court’s Public Information Office, implying that the Chief Justice was disengaging from a public debate with the President because it would be a futile exercise.

Mr. Duterte had gone ballistic in a speech to military troops after Sereno wrote him a letter stating her reservations on his allegation that some members of the judiciary had abused the issuance of temporary restraining orders. The Chief Justice was reacting to the allegation as an attempt by the executive branch to undermine the independence of the judiciary under the constitutional principle of separation of powers among the three coequal branches of government. In the letter, she called Mr. Duterte’s action of naming the judges “premature.” Later, she cautioned the judges, four of them still on active duty, not to surrender to authorities if no warrant of arrest is presented.

In his speech, the President delivered a sharp rebuke to the Chief Justice, warning her of a constitutional crisis and a possible declaration of martial law if the judiciary got in the way of his crackdown on dealers of illegal drugs.

The exchange sparked a conflict that set the Supreme Court and Malacañang on a collision course early on in the Duterte administration.

In the face of the President’s strongly provocative and bullying statements, Sereno firmly stood her ground but maintained her glacial silence and dignity: “Many things have been said, there is no need to add what has been said.”

In her letter to the President on Aug. 11, which triggered his ire, Sereno expressed concern over the spate of extrajudicial killings involving people suspected of using and/or pushing illegal drugs and his naming of the judges allegedly involved in drug syndicates. The named judges included one who had been dead for years and two already out of the service.

In his public response, Mr. Duterte mocked Sereno, saying she “must be joking” when she said a warrant of arrest should first be presented. He then proceeded to give the top magistrate of the land a lecture on the rule of law.

He went on to say that the rule of law did not apply anymore when talking about 600,000 drug suspects needing to be arrested because “they slaughter and rape children.” No evidence to back that statement has been presented by the authorities.

The Chief Justice had earlier formed a fact-finding committee led by retired Supreme Court Justice Roberto Abad to investigate incumbent judges linked to illegal drugs.

In scoffing at Sereno’s instruction to the named judges not to yield to authorities without a warrant of arrest, the President hinted that he would rather circumvent tedious judicial processes than allow drug suspects to go scot-free. He bristled at Sereno’s warning of a possible constitutional crisis. He threatened to call on government authorities “not to honor” the Chief Justice. He claimed that he did not order the police to arrest those judges on the prepared “narco list” but had called on the judges to show up at the Supreme Court, just as he had directed police officers allegedly involved in the illegal drugs trade to report to Philippine National Police chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa.

As a lawyer, the President continued, didn’t he know that the judges are under the jurisdiction of the Chief Justice? He reiterated that he did not order the judges to be arrested, adding that he “never accused anybody” and only named them.

What he did when he read out the names of judges, police officers and local government officials who have supposed connections to the illegal drug trade was, according to Mr. Duterte, “not an accusatorial utterance but, rather, it was in consonance with my duty as president of the Philippines.” He also said securing a warrant of arrest against every Filipino involved in illegal drugs would take time even as crimes would surely be committed in the streets.

He rambled on, but what the President did not say was that he was cutting corners on due process.

Amando Doronila was a regular columnist of the Inquirer from 1994 to May 2016.

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UN rapporteurs air concern over PH drug killings | Inquirer Global Nation

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United Nations rights experts called on the Duterte administration to end targeted killings and extrajudicial executions of drug suspects, saying these constitute crime against international law.

Agnes Callamard, UN special rapporteur on summary executions, raised concern over the rapid increase of people being killed in the Philippines, with 650 of them in the last six weeks alone amid President Duterte’s war on drugs.

She said allegations of drug trafficking offenses should be decided by a court of law “not by gunmen on the streets.”

“We call on the Philippine authorities to adopt with immediate effect the necessary measures to protect all persons from targeted killings and extrajudicial executions,” Callamard said in a statement on Thursday.

She said killings in line with the fight against illegal drugs “do not absolve the government from its international legal obligations and do not shield state actors or others from responsibility for illegal killings.”

“The state has a legally binding obligation to ensure the right to life and security of every person in the country, whether suspected of criminal offences or not,” she said.

Dainius Puras, UN special rapporteur on the right to health, said drug dependence should be treated as a public health issue.

Puras said “responses to the illicit drug trade must be carried out in full compliance with national and international obligations and should respect the human rights of each person.”

The Geneva-based UN special rapporteurs said Mr. Duterte’s recent public condemnation of vigilante justice “is not enough.”

“All allegations of killings and extrajudicial executions must be promptly and thoroughly investigated. Perpetrators and instigators must be sanctioned without exception,” they said.Estrella Torres

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Thursday, August 18, 2016

UN experts nix Duterte's 'license to kill' | ABS-CBN News

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MANILA – Two United Nations (UN) human rights experts called on President Rodrigo Duterte to stop the unabated killings in his war on drugs, with one of them warning that the Philippine leader's incitement to violence is a crime under international law.

Agnes Callamard, UN Special Rapporteur on summary executions, called out Duterte for endorsing the killing of drug suspects, describing the new president's statements as a "license to kill." 

Duterte has repeatedly said he would back policemen who would get involved in fatal encounters with drug suspects, even as doubts are now being cast over the conduct of police operations.

''Directives of this nature are irresponsible in the extreme and amount to incitement to violence and killing, a crime under international law. It is effectively a license to kill,” Callamard warned.

''Intentional lethal use of force is only allowed when strictly unavoidable in order to protect life and should not be used for common policing objectives,'' she added.

Since Duterte vowed during the campaign period up until his election victory that he would launch a bloody campaign against drugs, over 1,000 people have been killed by both policemen and civilians.

The unabated killings have alarmed human rights advocates, with an opposition senator set to hold a legislative inquiry next week into the spate of killings.

Callamard said "claims to fight illicit drug trade do not absolve a government from its international legal obligations and do not shield state actors or others from responsibility for illegal killings."

''The State has a legally binding obligation to ensure the right to life and security of every person in the country, whether suspected of criminal offenses or not,'' she said.


Dainius Pūras, UN Special Rapporteur on the right to health, meanwhile, said drug addiction must be treated as a public health issue.

''Concerning drug-dependency, this should be treated as a public health issue and justice systems that decriminalize drug consumption and possession for personal use as a means to improve health outcomes,'' Pūras said.

Both experts welcomed reports quoting Duterte as condemning vigilante justice, but they said this is not enough.

“Incentives to violence such as bounties or the promise of impunity also seriously contravene the rule of law and must end,” the experts said. 

“All allegations of killings and extrajudicial executions must be promptly and thoroughly investigated. Perpetrators and instigators must be sanctioned without exception.”

The statement from the two experts from the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights came in the wake of Duterte's latest tirades against the UN made on Wednesday. 

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UP Law students condemn extrajudicial killings, urge rule of law | Inquirer News

"x x x.

The University of the Philippines College of Law Student Government (UP-LSG) has condemned the spate of killings in the Duterte administration’s bloody war against illegal drugs and criminality.

Citing the Bill of Rights and due process clause in the Constitution, the student body called for the upholding of the rule of law and protection of fundamental human rights in the government’s anti-drug campaign.

“While we recognize government efforts to fight criminality as part of police power of the state, we cannot condone these acts of vigilantism and apparent disregard to life and due process of our fellow Filipinos,” UP-LSG said in a statement.

“The Law Student Government believes that measures to combat illegal drugs must be carried out under a framework that respects human rights—one that upholds the right to fair trial, eliminates impunity, and sees drug abuse as a public health concern that must be addressed with humanity and not violence,” it added.

The student council lamented that the “growing social tolerance” for vigilante killings was an outright disregard for basic human rights enshrined in the highest law of the land.

“The government’s inaction and implicit recognition of this culture of violence have created a society that accepts it as a legitimate means to end criminality at the expense of due process…Every death of an individual who never had his day in court to refute the charges levied against him is an outrage against this nation’s basic beliefs,” it said.

“Only by addressing the socio-economic roots of criminality can one make headway in the fight against it. The UP Law Student Government is one with the United Nations in calling for measures in combating the problem of substance abuse but at the same time ensuring the right to fair trial and elimination of impunity. Poverty alleviation and drug rehabilitation programs are essential to bringing down drug-related crimes,” the council added.

Contradicting President Rodrigo Duterte’s statement that the public should not expect due process from him as he is not the court, the law students called on the President to ensure that rule of law will prevail and pursue investigations on the drug-related killings as head of the enforcing executive branch.

“The executive branch is and should always be the vanguard of due process rights of individuals. As enforcers of the law, it is incumbent upon the executive branch to make sure that protocols and procedures reflect the respect for the due process rights of individuals,” the statement read.

“The ‘shoot now, ask questions later’ attitude that has been apparent in police operations must be put to an end. We call upon the President to pursue and investigate all cases of extrajudicial killings whether they are perpetrated by vigilantes or law enforcement officers who act with excessive force that rob individuals of their lives. Regardless of who are responsible for these extrajudicial killings, the government must investigate and account for them,” it added.

As of August 15, the Inquirer’s “Kill List” has 646 drug-related deaths since June 30 or after Duterte took office.

The Philippine National Police on Thursday said the number of persons killed in “legitimate operations” was at 665, while the total of deaths “under investigation” was at 899. - RAM/rga

x x x."

Edwin Lacierda's letter to Leila De Lima

· 12 hrs · 

Reposting Edwin Lacierda's letter to Leila De Lima. I agree with it 1000%! 
Dear Leila,

"x x x.

I know how deeply offended you are that one as high as the president would go so low as to launch an ill-concealed personal attack against you. I would have expected the president, speaking before our policemen and women, to defend his policy on the war on drugs, instead he lets loose a cannon of personal tirade against you.

Maybe this is the new ethics that pervades our land. Change has come, among others, where women are insulted, or threatened or made a subject of personal canard. I wonder if this is the attitude that we will accord our womenfolk from hereon. I wonder if our fellow countrymen would approve disrespect to women or again justify this as his demeanor.

This vacuum of respect is not the first time it has happened. It has been uttered regarding a dead female Australian missionary, to the female presiding Chief Justice, and now to you, a sitting female Senator of the Republic. That you are in good company Is the only charitable thing I can say.

Leila, just remember what Michelle Obama uttered in the Philadelphia DNC Convention--"when they go low, we go high."

Respect and decency are all we hope for and I pray these virtues do not go the way of the dinosaurs. Keep strong, just do your job.

In closing, there are two things I wish to remind you: always remember I described you, along with COA Chair Grace Tan and Ombudsman Chit Carpio Morales as "The Three Furies" and therefore, however difficult your task is, you have a responsibility to always fight for the people and for the law.

And second, let me part by leaving with you a quote from the Iron Lady, Margaret Thatcher - "I always cheer up immensely if an attack is particularly wounding because I think, well, if they attack one personally, it means they have not a single political argument left."

Keep the faith!

Edwin Lacierda.

x x x."


"x x x.


Words cannot express what I am feeling right now. I guess no one can, because no one has ever been attacked in such a manner by no less than the highest official of the land, until now. How does one defend oneself, when the attacker is immune from suit, and has all the backing of executive power to support him in his personal attack? This is no less than abuse and misuse of executive power. I don’t think the Constitution has ever contemplated such abuse of power on such scale, as it assumes every President to conduct himself in a manner befitting the office he holds. 

It seems that this is not the case for this President. 

If this is his way of stopping the Senate’s investigation on the extrajudicial killings, he can try until he finally silences me or the Senate. But I think it is already clear that what is being done to me is what will happen to anyone who does not bow to the wishes of the President. If stopping the Senate investigation is the only way for these personal attacks by the President and his men to also stop, believe me I have already thought about that. 

Tao lamang din po ako na nasasaktan, natatakot at nag-aalala rin para sa aking pamilya at mga mahal sa buhay. Kagalang-galang na Pangulo, Your Excellency, naisip ko na rin po na itigil na ang imbestigasyon sa mga summary executions kung iyon ang gusto ninyo para lamang matigil ang mga personal na atake sa akin. Sumagi na rin po sa isipan ko na itigil ang imbestigasyon kapalit ng katahimikan sa aking buhay. Pero kapag ginawa ko po ito ay parang tinalikuran ko na rin ang sarili kong pagkatao, at itinatwa ang sarili kong mga paninindigan at paniniwala. Hindi na po ako ang tatayong kinatawan ng bayan sa Senado. Isang huwad na anyo ko na lamang ang tatayo doon. Para ko na rin pong binaon ang aking sariling pagkatao. 

Mas nanaisin ko na kayo at inyong gobyerno ang magbaon sa akin kaysa ako ang magbaon sa aking sarili. Alam ko pong may mga kaso kayong hinahanda laban sa akin. Hihintayin ko na lamang na isampa ninyo ang mga reklamo at sa tamang panahon ko na po sasagutin, kung bibigyan ako ng pagkakataon ng inyong gobyerno na ipaliwanag ang aking sarili at ibigay ang aking panig. 

Matagal na po akong nakakatanggap ng mga impormasyon tungkol sa pag-imbento ng mga ebidensya laban sa akin, at mga babala na sisiraan ako kung hindi ako tumigil sa tingin ninyong pagbatikos at pagpuna sa inyong pamamalakad. Hindi ko na lang pinansin ang mga ito. Buong akala ko na hindi kayo mismo ang magiging biktima ng sarili ninyong propaganda at social media operations. Sana po ay hindi pa sarado ang inyong isip na pakinggan muna ang aking panig, bago ninyo ipagpatuloy ang paninira sa aking pagkatao sa harap ng publiko at taumbayan. 

Kahit iyon lang po sana ay ibigay ninyo sa akin, ang pagkakataon na ipagtanggol ang aking sarili, lalo na po sa isang kalagayan na ang Pangulo na ng bansa ang nagdeklara na siya ang aking kalaban at personal na nag-aakusa sa akin. Pangulo po kayo. Senador lamang po ako. Patas na laban lamang po ang aking hinihingi. Sana ay ibigay ninyo sa akin ang ibinigay na rin naman ng batas at Konstitusyon sa kahit na kaninong na-aakusahan sa ilalim ng ating sistemang pang-legal. 

Kung ang pag-atake sa akin ay gagawin sa pamamagitan ng pag-atake rin sa mga dati kong kasama sa trabaho, o maging sa aking sariling pamilya, sana ay huwag na ninyo silang idamay. If you are bent in destroying me, please have the decency to spare my colleagues, friends, and family. Wala po silang kasalanan sa inyo. 

Sa kabila nito, makakaasa po kayo na magiging patas at makatwiran ang aming gagawing imbestigasyon sa mga nagaganap na mga pagpatay sa inyong giyera laban sa droga. Nanaisin namin na ang kahahantungan nito ay ang pagsisiwalat ng katotohanan sa mga nagaganap na karahasan at pagkitil ng buhay mula ng naumpisahan ang inyong laban sa droga. Sisiguraduhin namin na ang magiging resulta nito ay ang pagpapalakas ng batas para sa pagsugpo ng kriminalidad na hindi naisasantabi ang karapatang pantao, ng mga napaghihinalaan man, o ng mga inosente nating kababayan. 

Tama na po ang pananakot at panghihiya. Bumalik na po tayo sa kaayusan na dulot ng pag-iiral ng batas at simpleng respeto sa kapwa tao. 

I have always been loyal to my oath as a public servant. I am not the enemy here. Stop portraying me as one. 

I ask the nation to continue praying with me, for me, for the President, and for the country. 

Maraming salamat po. 

x x x ."

"The SC, instead, issued a revised resolution yesterday inviting the chiefs of Philippine National Police (PNP) and Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) to submit complaint-affidavits or other information against the four judges."

"x x x.

MANILA, Philippines – One of the judges named by President Duterte as a protector of drug lords has resigned from his post.

Judge Exequil Dagala of the Dapa-Socorro Municipal Circuit Trial Court in Surigao del Norte submitted his irrevocable resignation to the Supreme Court (SC), a day after Duterte identified him as one of seven judges who allegedly protected drug lords.

SC spokesman Theodore Te said the high court did not accept Dagala’s resignation.

Te said Dagala was facing an administrative investigation for other offenses, even before Duterte announced in public the names of the alleged “narco-judges.”

“He remains under the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court as far as administrative discipline is concerned and will be subject to the fact-finding investigation to be conducted by retired Justice Roberto Abad,” Te said.

Aside from Dagala, the other judges in Duterte’s list were Adriano Savillo of the Iloilo City Regional Trial Court; Domingo Casiple of Kalibo, Aklan RTC and Antonio Reyes of Baguio City RTC.

Three other judges no longer with the judiciary were also on the list.

Among them were Roberto Navidad of Calbayog City, Samar RTC and Lorenda Mupas of Dasmariñas, Cavite Municipal Trial Court.

Navidad was killed by a lone assailant in January 2008 and Mupas was dismissed in 2007 for gross ignorance of the law.

The third judge, Rene Gonzales of Iloilo City MTCC, retired in June and had not handled any drug cases in his sala.


The high tribunal has suspended a judge that was not on Duterte’s list but who is also being linked to the illegal drug trade.

The SC refused to identify the judge, until after resolution of an administrative complaint that would be filed against him.

“The judge will be facing a formal administrative complaint and has been suspended until further notice. The identity cannot be revealed as administrative complaints are confidential in nature, until resolved,” Te said.

Meanwhile, the SC has taken back its order for the Palace to file administrative charges against Dagala, Salvillo, Casiple and Reyes.

The SC, instead, issued a revised resolution yesterday inviting the chiefs of Philippine National Police (PNP) and Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) to submit complaint-affidavits or other information against the four judges.

Last week, the SC directed the Palace or Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea to submit formal complaint-affidavits against the judges within seven days for purposes of administrative investigation.

The high court gave PNP chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa and PDEA director general Isidro Lapeña seven days from receipt of notice to file their complaints.

The high court treated as mere information President Duterte’s speech on Aug. 7 announcing the names of alleged “narco-judges.”

The SC clarified that the fact-finding investigation on the judges is now on its own initiative.

The high court retained its order for the four judges to submit their answers within seven days from receipt of the complaint to be submitted by the anti-narcotics authorities.

It reiterated that Abad would conduct the probe within 30 days from submission of the answers of the four judges.

The high tribunal ordered Abad and all its officials to observe strict confidentiality of the administrative proceedings.

Te refused to explain why the SC revised its resolution. He also did not say whether Dela Rosa and Lapeña could opt not to submit the complaints, since the word used in the resolution was “invite.”

Malacañang questioned the SC order for Medialdea to file complaints against the judges, citing separation of powers of the two co-equal branches of government.

Earlier, Duterte and Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno appeared to be at loggerheads due to the naming of judges as alleged drug coddlers.

Sereno opted to keep silent when Duterte lambasted her for questioning his public announcement.

The President later apologized, and she accepted the apology.

x x x."

Monday, August 15, 2016

De Lima: Killings may lead to charges of crimes against humanity | Inquirer News

"x x x.

Senator Leila de Lima on Monday said that President Rodrigo Duterte may be charged with crimes against humanity at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague for the spate of drug-related deaths which have increased since Duterte assumed the presidency.

De Lima said that while she does not intend to threaten the President, she said that the drug-related deaths in the country could constitute crimes against humanity as there has already been “widespread” and “systematic” use of force against civilians.

“There are some experts who are saying that…if this spate of killings go unabated and unchecked, it could reach that point that the ICC could send a prosecutor to our country and investigate all these for possible prosecution under the Rome Statute. That is not a joke. The last thing we need right now is for our dear President to be subjected to an investigation by an international tribunal like the International Criminal Court,” De Lima said in a roundtable interview with Inquirer editors and reporters.

“I am not threatening the President. I am just stating a fact,” she clarified.

She said that the drug war of the administration can be described as “widespread” with the fact that hundreds of suspects have died in summary killings and anti-drug police operations.

“The element of the crime against humanity that is ‘widespread’ is already present. We have more than a hundred, almost reaching a thousand [deaths]. I think it is not debatable that it is now widespread,” De Lima said.

As of Aug. 12, 2016, the Inquirer’s “Kill List” showed that 601 drug suspects have been killed since Duterte took office last June 30.

On the other hand, De Lima said that the “systematic” element of the offense may have been deemed satisfied by the statements of the President and Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Ronald dela Rosa which seem to justify the government’s anti-drug war.

“The systemic element [of the crime] is said to be the one that is difficult to prove because of the State and the leaders’ deniability. But then, the pronouncements of the President and PNP General [Ronald] dela Rosa, from the campaign period until now, may be considered as evidence,” the senator said.

Duterte will not be shielded from immunity once he faces the charge at the ICC, she added.

The prosecution of the President at the international tribunal is one of the scenarios that De Lima wants to be clarified by the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) in the two-day inquiry on the killings that will be conducted on Aug. 22 and 23.

The senator reiterated that the inquiry will focus on “seeking the truth,” adding that she only wanted to help the President in busting the drug menace.

The Philippines is a signatory to the 1988 Rome Statute of the ICC which punishes heads of state should they commit crimes against humanity, genocide and war crimes.

Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II earlier downplayed the threat of an international rights case against the President for the deaths of hundreds of drug suspect.

“Criminals are not humanity. Crimes against illegal drugs, [maybe],” Aguirre told the Inquirer in a text message last week. - RAM/rga

x x x."

Killing spree in the Philippines rises to 1,580 victims in less than 50 days - The Maharlikan

"x x x.

MANILA, Philippines – The number of suspected drug dealers killed in Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s crackdown has risen to more than 1,000 in just over a month, police said Thursday, in an alarming campaign that sparked protests and plans for a Senate investigation.

Since July 1, more than a thousand drug suspects have been killed in clashes with police while more than 7,600 suspects have been arrested in more than 5,400 antinarcotics assaults, the national police’s Directorate for Investigation and Detective Management said in a report. More than half a million have surrendered to authorities, according to police.

Some local news agencies have reported considerably higher death tolls, some as high as nearly 2,000, in counts that included drug suspects killed by unidentified attackers since Duterte emerged as the president-elect following the May 9 elections.

Police officials say those killed had put up a fight, although critics argue that circumstances indicate many of the suspects were illegally killed or died because police did not follow established procedures in dealing with crime suspects.

Human rights activists protested at several schools against the killings and Duterte’s threat to place the country under martial law if the Supreme Court attempted to block his fight against crime, specifically illegal drugs which he said has worsened into a pandemic.

“Human rights have been sacrificed in the conduct of the anti-drug drive, with those holding the gun assuming the roles of both accusers and executioners,” human right activist leader Vencer Crisostomo said. “It is impossible to ascertain innocence or guilt if the accused are simply shot on the spot.”

“The Duterte regime’s war on drugs is bound to fail if it continues to rely on extrajudicial killings led by a corrupt and abusive police and military hierarchy, Crisostomo said, adding that the illegal drug trade is a symptom of deeper social problems, like rising poverty, joblessness and hunger, “which cannot be wiped out by bullets alone.”

The crackdown involves testing policemen nationwide if they have used illegal drugs and the report said 116 of 75,848 policemen have tested positive and were being investigated and would face possible charges and dismissal from the force.

Sen. Leila de Lima said the Senate’s committee on justice and human rights, which she heads, would start an investigation into the killings on Aug. 22. Duterte’s political allies in Congress have tried to block the planned investigation.

Duterte built a name as a crime busting mayor of southern Davao city. During the presidential campaign and after taking office, he has openly threatened drug dealers and other criminals with death and has called for restoring the death penalty — by hanging because he says he didn’t want to waste electricity on outlaws.

Duterte has encouraged law enforcers to go hard on criminals and has assured them he would back them up and pardon them if they are convicted of committing human rights violations while battling criminals.

x x x."

"The United States strongly believes in the rule of law, due process, and respect for universal human rights, and that these principles promote long-term security. We are concerned by reports regarding extrajudicial killings of individuals suspected to have been involved in drug activity in the Philippines. We strongly urge the Philippines to ensure its law enforcement efforts are consistent with its human rights obligations."

"x x x.

U.S. Embassy Statement

Manila, August 12, 2016 — We have seen reports of inappropriate and unacceptable comments made about Ambassador Goldberg, a multi-time ambassador and one of the U.S. Department of State’s most senior diplomats. As stated by Elizabeth Trudeau, Director of the Office of Press Relations at U.S. Department of State, the Philippine Chargé was asked to come to the State Department so we could directly convey our view that the comments were inappropriate and unacceptable. We do not go into details of those diplomatic discussions. 

The U.S. funding of $32 million in question is not new funding, but rather cumulative funding previously appropriated that we are currently implementing. Assistance provided by these funds is subject to the same rigorous vetting as our other security assistance. All of our security assistance promotes human rights through training content and by promoting professionalism, due process, and the rule of law. Our partnership with the Philippines is based on a shared respect for rule of law, and we will continue to ‎emphasize the importance of this fundamental democratic principle.

The United States strongly believes in the rule of law, due process, and respect for universal human rights, and that these principles promote long-term security. We are concerned by reports regarding extrajudicial killings of individuals suspected to have been involved in drug activity in the Philippines. We strongly urge the Philippines to ensure its law enforcement efforts are consistent with its human rights obligations.

Our bilateral relationship with the Philippines is broad-ranging from law enforcement to trade and development cooperation, and counts on vibrant and undeniably strong people-to-people and societal ties. The U.S.-Philippine relationship, one of our most important in the Asia Pacific, has withstood the test of time.

x x x."

International jurists to Duterte: Respect independence of judiciary | Headlines, News, The Philippine Star |

"x x x.

MANILA, Philippines — An organization of eminent judges and lawyers around the world urged President Rodrigo Duterte to respect the independence of the judiciary, a co-equal branch of government.

The International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) made the statement in response to the president's announcement of judges allegedly linked to the illegal drug trade.

Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno had sent a letter to Duterte, stressing that the judicial branch has the responsibility to discipline judges.

Duterte, however, told Sereno that he may order the executive department not to honor the judiciary and warned her not to set off a "constitutional crisis."

A few days later, the president apologized to the chief justice for his "harsh words" that he claimed were unintended.

The organization stressed that the judiciary has institutional independence, particularly in disciplining its own judges.

"According to the UN Basic Principles on the Independence of the Judiciary and the UN Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, the body responsible for the discipline of judges should be independent of the executive and composed mainly (if not solely) of judges and members of the legal profession," the ICJ said in a statement released Thursday.

The ICJ called on the Supreme Court to establish and employ its established mechanisms to discipline its own judges.

The international organization of judges and lawyers also expressed concern over the proposed reimposition of the death penalty and the rising number of killings of people allegedly involved in the illegal drug trade.

"The proposed reintroduction of the death penalty, the spate of extrajudicial killings, and the fervor currently exhibited by President Duterte in going after allegedly corrupt members of the judiciary are directly linked to his zeal to address a perceived widespread drug menace in the country," ICJ Regional Director Sam Zarifi said.

This was not the first time the international group of judges addressed Duterte. In July, the ICJ urged the Philippine leader to counter the rising number of unlawful killings and not to let death penalty return.

x x x."