Philippine Vice President Leni Robredo said Wednesday the nation’s drug war had left Filipinos feeling “hopeless and helpless”, with trust in the police eroded by thousands of summary executions.
In a video message to a United Nations meeting on extrajudicial killings posted online, Robredo also called for international scrutiny of President Rodrigo Duterte’s controversial crackdown.
“Some of those who have told us that when there’s crime, they normally go to the police. Now, they don’t know where to turn,” Robredo said in the message, which was released to the media ahead of its scheduled screening at the UN gathering in Austria on Thursday.
“Our people feel both hopeless and helpless: a state of mind that we must all take seriously.”
Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have warned Duterte may be overseeing crimes against humanity, with state-sanctioned killings.
They have said nearly all of those killed by police were in self-defence while the unexplained deaths were likely due to drug gangs eliminating rivals or others who could implicate them.
– ‘Grim statistics’ –
In her message to the United Nations, Robredo described all those deaths as “summary executions”.
“We are now looking at some very grim statistics: since July last year, more than 7,000 people have been killed in summary executions,” Robredo said.
He also denied that police were carrying out the “exchange heads” scheme.
“This is not the norm. This is not the practice,” Carlos told reporters.
But her comments to the UN meeting were among her strongest criticisms and came as rights groups warned of a rising climate of fear that is leaving many people unwilling to speak out against Duterte or police abuse.
Senator Leila de Lima, another top Duterte critic, was arrested last month on drug trafficking charges which rights groups insisted were manufactured to silence her and intimidate others.