A congresswoman has warned that President Rodrigo “Rody” Duterte’s marching orders to the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to “hunt down” suspected drug lords may lead to heightened militarization, especially in far-flung communities.
“Already, we could see what this bloody war on drugs has cost us. Thousands have died, many not even proven to be drug traffickers, some even not yet reaching the legal age. Already, hundreds of families are mourning the death of their loved ones who are victims of the drug war perpetrated by the police force. Now, even the AFP is given the green light to conduct ‘Tokhang’ activities, and that bodes ill for the human rights situation in the country,” said Kabataan Party-list Rep. Sarah Jane Elag.
Elago was reacting to the statement of President Duterte who told troops to “hunt” suspected drug lords and help in his war on drugs.
She noted that allowing the AFP to take an active role in the drug war may lead to heightened militarization and rights abuses.
“One could only imagine in horror how known human rights violators in the armed forces can exploit the drug war as cover for their military operations, especially in far-flung communities. Farmers, indigenous peoples, and common citizens living in peace in the countryside are now in danger of intensified military operations in the name of the war on drugs,” Elago said.
“If it was easy for the AFP to plant evidence in many cases of illegal arrests and abductions, it would also be easy for them to plant evidence to make their operations look like a legitimate drug buy bust,” she added.
“To say that we are worried about this latest development will be a clear understatement. Already, we can foresee a future wherein counterinsurgency operations will be disguised as drug raids. Human rights violations will surely soar, even in the most remote communities, no thanks to the President’s relentless war on drugs,” Elago ended.