In a speech during a human rights forum at the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City, on Friday, Secretary Benjamin Reyes head of the Dangerous Drugs Board made it clear that they do not condone extrajudicial killings. He stressed that the Duterte Administration adheres to the rule of law, contrary to accusations by human rights advocates.
Reyes said that the Duterte has always reminded the law enforcers to follow the rules of engagement, but they also need to defend themselves should the situation calls for it.
Reyes also criticize the media for taking the president’s “jokes” seriously, especially when Duterte talks about his desire to “kill” and get rid of drug addicts.
“He will never condone illegal activities. With other countries during the ASEAN [Summit], he reiterated last Saturday that the Philippines is still ruled by law…Our position is that we do not condone extrajudicial killings. That is why we investigate all of these things,” he said.
Meanwhile, when asked by Ateneo Human Rights Executive Director Arpee Santiago on the results of government’s investigation on the deaths of at least 2,000 individuals in drug operations around the country, Reyes replied “That’s a difficult question to answer, it will take so much resources, but we are exhausting all means to look into these killings,”
Reyes also asked the help of local governments and the public to ensure success in the drug war.
“In some of the LGUs we visited, unfortunately despite the guidelines, it is not being followed. We have observed some enforcement agents who are not aware that a board regulation exists” he said.
“There are rules in engaging individuals, there are established procedures, if you see these rules are not followed, then report it. We will do our best to look into these situations.”
The DDB secretary was one of the guests and speakers in a human rights forum in UP Diliman, which was also attended by Agnes Callamard, the United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions.