Dear President Duterte:
In the face of the staggering number of extrajudicial killings in the Philippines, we, Canadian civil society organizations, are impelled to express our deep concern regarding some of your statements which clearly sanction violence targeting “suspected drug users and pushers”. As president, and representative of state, this could leave your government open to charges of neglecting or violating the rights of your countrymen and women. We humbly wish to remind you that your words are equivalent to state-sponsorship. We add our voices to the chorus of organizations and activists in the Philippines and from around the world who are calling for your government to put a stop to the killings and urge you to prosecute and hold accountable the perpetrators of these killings, including those from the police force.
According to Amnesty Internationali, in the first 100 days of your presidency, there have been over 3000 victims of extrajudicial killings, a staggering average of 35 killings per day.
We are deeply troubled that the apparent targets and victims of this state sponsored violence are predominantly from poor, vulnerable and marginalized sectors of Philippine society. This exposes the poverty and oppression that underlies any drug problem. We believe your “war on drugs” is a misguided effort to address a drug problem that stems from the stark inequalities in Philippine society. We do not claim that our own society is free from inequality or drugs either, but we firmly believe that such problems will only be solved by addressing the basic problems faced by the majority of Filipino people who need secure jobs with living wages, free education and health care, and land to cultivate.