Press Release
February 22, 2023

Hontiveros to EU MPs: Drug-related killings have not stopped, ICC investigation will not harm domestic efforts

Senator Risa Hontiveros on Wednesday assured representatives of the European Parliament subcommittee on human rights that the ICC investigation on the war on drugs will help the country 'exhaust all means' to give justice to the victims of the bloody policy of the previous administration.

The group met Hontiveros separately during their visit to the Senate on Wednesday, where they sought a different perspective on human rights issues in the Philippines.

"The international action can only help, not harm our own domestic efforts on the extrajudicial killings (EJKs). If we were to say that we alone could take care of our own cases, take into account the more than 11,000 victims survivors of Martial Law dictatorship human rights abuses who only received a small, symbolic stipend. It has been over 20 years, and yet the task of giving them justice remains unfinished. 6,000 cases of EJKs ang nakasalang sa ICC, bakit hindi natin hayaan magpatuloy ang paggulong ng hustisya? The thousands of murders are incontestable. Politics aside, what do we plan on doing about these murders?," she asked.

"We are waiting for the ICC process to ripen. The work against impunity is so large, it is clear that we need all the assistance we can get. It is important we remain transparent about the realities of our human rights situation here," she stressed.

Hontiveros also refuted claims that EJKs have stopped under the present administration. The senator added that the new admin has "not taken definitive steps to exact justice for the victims of the bloody policies enacted under the war on drugs".

"Drug-related killings have not stopped. This is why international solidarity is welcome and necessary. We must exhaust all means and avenues, including the ICC to seek justice for victims of human rights violations. There is media and public exhaustion on EJKs, but drug-related killings continue on the ground," she said.

"I am not aware of any actions that the current government has taken to give justice to more victims of EJKs. The convictions won by Kian de los Santos and a few others were through the efforts of the families with civil society supporters," she said.

According to the UP Third World Studies Center, the 152 drug-related killings under the Marcos, Jr. administration exceeded the 149 recorded killings during the final six months of former President Duterte's administration. Of the 152 killed since the start of the new admin, 46.7% were committed by state operatives.

During the meeting, Hontiveros brought up the cases of Kian delos Santos, a teenage victim of extrajudicial killings proven to be executed by police officers.

"The story of Kian mirrors the realities of our human rights situation here. The conviction of perpetrators, especially state agents, in the case of Kian delo Santos' murder, are a few signs of hope. But they are very few. The slow crawl to justice proves that the perpetrators continue to enjoy impunity," she emphasized.

Aside from drug-related killings, the meeting also discussed other human rights concerns including journalist killings, and attacks on press freedom and democratic spaces. The delegation shared ideas with the senator on tackling disinformation online and decriminalizing libel.

Hontiveros said the meeting was a reminder that "we are not alone and we are part of an international community of shared values".

"Attacks on human rights and press freedom, and the massive proliferation of disinformation are not unique to the Philippines. These are shared problems we face. It is our shared responsibility to protect freedom of speech and expression as essential to democracy, and our countries need to work together to battle the challenges of our times," she concluded.



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