Philippine lawyers ask Supreme Court to halt ‘illegal’ war on drugs

MANILA: A group of Philippine lawyers on Wednesday filed an injunction with the Supreme Court to try to stop President Rodrigo Duterte’s bloody war on drugs, calling it as an illegal campaign that lets police kill and circumvent legal procedures.
The government’s directive for the fierce 15-month-old crackdown permits police to “negate” and “neutralise” targets, effectively granting them a licence to kill suspected users and dealers, without gathering evidence or building a case, the lawyers said.
A practice of compiling lists of “drug personalities” and encouraging citizens to anonymously provide names was tantamount to drawing up a hit list, the petition said. It called for judicial intervention in thousands of cases where Filipinos were killed by police.
“The present war on drugs being waged by the government is not going to stop illegal drugs, crime and corruption,” Jose Manuel Diokno, chairman of the Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG), told a news conference.
“(It) will only result in the killing of more and more people especially the poor.”
The petition comes as public scrutiny intensifies on Duterte’s signature campaign, which he insists will not stop, regardless of the bloodshed. He says he is prepared to go to jail to protect Filipinos from crimes fuelled by addiction.
Duterte rejects criticism that his notoriously bellicose public remarks have been interpreted by some police as veiled instructions to kill drug users, with impunity.
Philippine National Police (PNP) spokesman Dionardo Carlos said police “welcome the filing of the petition before the Supreme Court”. He did not elaborate. Though Filipinos are largely supportive of Duterte’s iron-fisted approach, recent opinion polls indicate public doubts that his drugs war is above board and effective as the government says. — Reuters