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Include drug EJKs in peace talks, church-based group urges govt, Reds

By: InterAksyon.com
January 17, 2017 10:34 AM



The online news portal of TV5

MANILA, Philippines -- A church-based human rights group is urging the government and communist rebels to include the “epidemic” of killings that has marked the war on drugs in the peace negotiations.

The third round of formal negotiations under the Duterte administration are scheduled from January 19-25 in Rome.

In an open letter to both parties, Rise Up for Life and for Rights, or RISE UP, also said it is joining families of the victims of drug killings and other human rights violations in filing complaints against the government before the Joint Monitoring Committee, the bilateral body tasked with monitoring the implementation of the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law.

Stressing that respect for human dignity and human rights “is an essential component and building a just and lasting peace in our nation,” RISE UP said church leaders “urge the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines to include in their peace talks this urgent matter of drug-related killings with impunity that have escalated to epidemic proportions.”

Invoking the CARHRIHL’S objective “to guarantee the protection of human rights to all Filipinos under all circumstances especially the workers, peasants and other poor people,” RISE UP said “drug-related killings must be prioritized in the upcoming peace talks as a significant threat and obstacle to building a just and lasting peace, especially in financially disenfranchised communities.”

It also challenged both parties to investigate the drug killings, which are estimated to have claimed more than 6,000 lives since last July, about a third of these from police operations, the rest from street shootings and vigilante-style executions.

It said the “high incidence of killings support first-hand accounts of witnesses in underscoring that police and alleged state-sanctioned killers should be accused of human rights violations and extra-judicial killings in poor communities.”

While saying they, “as much as anyone, want the dismantling of drug syndicates and the obliteration of the illicit drug trade in the Philippines,” RISE UP said “building peace requires that we address the roots of the problems of the people.”

It contended that “drug use proliferates, at least in part, because of a lack of adequate productive opportunities in poor communities.”

“We believe that the dignity of persons requires that we offer them due process and the opportunity to redeem themselves,” it stressed. “We believe that the vulnerable poor, marginalized and exploited sectors of society must be afforded every respect of their human rights -- for these are the rights of the toiling majority.”

RISE up also urged the government and rebels to “further implement CARHRIHL as a mechanism for upholding human rights, address the roots of the armed conflict in the Philippines, and ardently pursue the attainment of a just and lasting peace for the Filipino people.”






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