Vigilio Mirano didn’t stand a chance. On Sept. 27, 2016, Mirano received a letter from local government officials in the Manila slum where he lived with his wife and two children implicating him as a drug user and ordering him to appear at a “mass surrender” ceremony on Sept. 30.
Hours later, four armed men dressed in black and wearing face masks burst into his home, dragged him into the outside alley and shot him six times in full view of his horrified family. The killers then drove away unimpeded through a nearby police checkpoint. A police report stated that Mirano had drawn a gun on anti-drug police and died in an “exchange of gunfire.” Witnesses call that account false.
Mirano is a victim of the “war on drugs” declared by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and which Philippine national police personnel and “unidentified gunmen” have mostly waged in Manila’s poorest areas. Duterte’s drug-war foot soldiers have been chillingly efficient: the anti-drug campaign’s death toll surpassed 7,000 at the end of January when the police stopped issuing weekly updated kill statistics.
Duterte has consistently justified the 2,555 killings acknowledged by the police between July 1, 2016 and Jan. 31, as a legitimate police response to armed suspects who “fought back.” Duterte’s government has repeatedly dismissed allegations that the police have deployed “death squads” in a campaign of summary killings under the guise of anti-drug operations.
But research by Human Rights Watch into the death of Mirano and 31 other individuals killed since Duterte’s election exposes the government’s narrative of its drug war as a blatant falsehood. Interviews with witnesses to killings, relatives of victims and analysis of police records expose a damning pattern of unlawful police conduct designed to paint a veneer of legality over summary executions.
While the Philippine national police have publicly sought to distinguish between suspects killed while resisting arrest and killings by “unknown gunmen” or “vigilantes,” Human Rights Watch found no such distinction in the cases investigated. In several cases, the police dismissed allegations of involvement and instead classified such killings as “found bodies” or “deaths under investigation” when only hours before the suspects had been in police custody. Such cases call into question government assertions that the majority of killings were carried out by vigilantes or rival drug gangs.
The cases analyzed by Human Rights Watch showed planning and coordination by the police and in some cases local civilian officials. These killings were not carried out by “rogue” officers or by “vigilantes” operating separately from the authorities. Research indicates that police involvement in the killings of drug suspects extends far beyond the officially acknowledged cases of police killings in “buy-bust” operations.
Efforts to get accountability for drug-war deaths have gone nowhere. Philippine national police Director-General Ronaldo Dela Rosa has slammed calls for a thorough and impartial probe of the killings as “legal harassment” and said it “dampens the morale” of police officers. Duterte and some of his key ministers have praised the killings as proof of the “success” of the anti-drug campaign. Duterte and Secretary of Justice Vitaliano Aguirre III have justified the trashing of the rule of law and due legal process for “drug personalities” by questioning the humanity of suspected drug users and drug dealers. On Feb. 24 police arrested the highest profile critic of the drug war, Senator Leila de Lima, on politically motivated drug charges following a relentless government campaign of harassment and intimidation because of her outspoken criticism of Duterte’s “war on drugs” and her demands for accountability.
As the death toll rises, even after an official suspension of police anti-drug operations in January following revelations of the brutal killing of a South Korean businessman by alleged anti-drug police, it’s clear that the Philippine government has no intention to investigate these unlawful killings.
That’s why Human Rights Watch is calling on the United Nations to establish an independent international investigation into the killings. Duterte’s repeated calls for anti-drug killings could constitute acts instigating law enforcement to commit murder. His statements encouraging vigilantes could constitute incitement to violence. Duterte, senior officials, and others implicated in unlawful killings could be held liable for crimes against humanity committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack on a civilian population.
The killing of Vigilio Mirano and thousands of other victims of Duterte’s drug war calls for an urgent international response. Turning a blind eye to these crimes will merely ensure that such abuses continue.
Blah! blah! blah! blah! tell it to my brother who died because the drug pushers chased and forced feed him with drugs. An innocent victim of the drug lord and pushers in my village. Stop defending these evil criminals and defend the rights of the many innocent live and dead victims.
I am not sure if you have been to the Philippines or talked to the right people Mr. Kine but I think your article is misleading. Better do more reasearch, it makes you look uninformed, or worste, irresponsible…
stupidity at it’s finest….. if you’re not lived in the Philippines don’t make article base in your imagination…
Biased writing. Shame on this writer and this publication. You might want to investigate and write about the likes of VP Robredo and Sen. De Lima and their links to the drug trade.
Your country? It says you’re from Australia. Hahaha.
Philippines is a pile of trash. Full of stupid bible believers that breed like rats and cannot afford to support it. The world has enough janitors and maids, please stop producing them.
How much did you get paid to write this shitty article? Live in and help your own country you friggin bastard.
You counting the dead drug addicts but you didnt count the innocence victim of the drug addict? How about the rape, robbery, killing, corruption and many crimes that mostly do, because of the illigal drugs in our country, mr. Phelim kine, if you want to write about human rightsjust go to syria, and iraq a lot of human right violation, they need there.
Go and take a hike! loser!!!
Listen to the oncoming hearing of the so called head of DDS and let us go from there. Let us not be blind of what is happening in our country
You’re full of shit , brother my arse
1 million drug addicts not killed by Duterte. They are in prisons and rehab centers. Why would these remaining numbers be killed? Because they are addicted not just to drugs but to the small "cabo" power they hold in their "territories". They have been informal "boss" in their small kingdoms. They will not surrender. They will resist arrest. Worst, they will attack police. Bad people are real. Duterte has scuttled their strongholds. They will liquidate their assets / eliminate the rats. Again, 1 million drug addicts not killed. Explain that.
we believe you mr. reporter 100%
Sorry Dutertards you are all Devil Worshipper your Days are Numbered! You Protectors of a Mass Murderer and a Psychopath President are coming to an END soon! Wa ha ha ha ha
Mr Phelim Kine you are all right in this Article! Never mind those brainless Filipino Bastards!!! Wa ha ha ha Those are being paid by Duterte and Bongbong Marcos to tell lies on the Internet! The Majority of the Filipino today hate and condemn the senseless Drug War!
Truth hurts especially for fanatics!
We believe you Mr. Phelim Kine and thank you for this Article! This senseless Drugwar has caused so many innocent lives. And it’s about time to bring this to the International Court and have this Embicile and Psychopath President in JAIL! Please Help Us!
loads of paid trolls here.. We need outsiders to expose the devious and muderous president of our country.. Everybody is scared and intimidated by a thuggish, mentally ill president whose every fiber of his being is evil. Most are paid handsomely to do his dirty jobs and for their loyalties, and lot more are brainwashed by their propaganda, who cannot think logically anymore. Crazy world, please do not leave the Philippines, we need more of you. ty
This is more speculative drama injected in ATIMES to try to smear Dong Dong Duteeeeerte. He’s doing what the people want and Phlegm that is merely to kill them all.
Not true.De Lima and Robredo are people who are doing the right thing by others.Please search for the truth.
Vi P Paasuke I am in the way of truth. You havent been watching the news these past months.
it’s very good of the international human right group to proceed to the investigation , bec it is TRUE , the killing!
Comments are closed.