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Human rights group: Duterte goads state forces into taking lives

GMA News Online logo GMA News Online 12/6/2018 Marchadesch, Barbara
Rodrigo Duterte smiling for the camera

Human rights groups on Thursday slammed President Rodrigo Duterte's remark that his critics have exaggerated the number of people killed in his war on drugs, saying that whatever the actual death toll, he has goaded government forces into killing people.

“It doesn’t matter if the EJK [extrajudicial killing] figures are at 20,000 or 4,000,” Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay told GMA News Online in a text message.

“What matters is that lives have been taken by State forces ordered, encouraged and goaded by Pres. Duterte,” she said.

On Wednesday, Duterte said his critics inflated the bloody anti-drugs campaign's death toll, citing the number 20,000 and comparing it to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency’s (PDEA) tally of 4,999 killed from the start of his term until October 31, 2018.

Palabay said that Duterte also "continues to evade accountability" for the deaths.

The President has gone so far as to announce the Philippines' withdrawal from the International Criminal Court (ICC), which is looking into accusations of crimes against humanity levied against him.

Human rights group DAKILA said that Duterte’s remark is an attempt to twist the facts to confuse the public about the number of the killings.

“These do not conceal the vicious reality of the war on drugs and can never downplay the atrocities committed,” DAKILA co-founder and executive director Leni Velasco told GMA News Online in a text message.

“Whether the death toll amounts to 4,000 or 20,000, one death is too many,” she continued.

The government only wages its drug war against the poor, not against the real, major perpetrators of crime and violence, Velasco said. — BM, GMA News

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