THE government on Sunday vowed to investigate reports of a wave of extrajudicial killings, after Washington warned that military aid was dependent on respect for human rights.
Media reports say nearly a thousand people have been killed since President Rodrigo Duterte won a landslide election victory in May largely on a pledge to kill tens of thousands of criminals.
The US Embassy warned the Duterte government on Friday that millions of dollars of military aid allotted to the Philippines was tied to adherence to the rule of law, due process and respect for human rights.
“We are concerned by reports regarding extrajudicial killings of individuals suspected to have been involved in drug activity in the Philippines,” it said.
“We strongly urge the Philippines to ensure its law enforcement efforts are consistent with its human rights obligations,” the embassy added.
The Foreign Affairs Department said Sunday that it took note of US views on the issue, adding Manila was focused on the eradication of drugs in society.
“Nevertheless, while pursuing this objective, the Philippine government is committed to the rule of law, and the protection of human rights for all,” the statement said.
It added: “We do not condone any unlawful killings and Philippine authorities have been instructed to immediately look into these incidents and bring the perpetrators to justice.”
Police said Friday they had killed 550 drug suspects while arresting nearly 8,000 others since after the May election.
However, ABS-CBN said more than 400 other people have been killed since then by shadowy assassins who leave cardboard signs beside their victims accusing them of narcotics crimes.
Police said that while it was investigating these other killings, no suspects had been arrested.
The Palace, meanwhile, touted a 9.8-percent decline in the crime rate in July, compared to the same month in 2015.
Communications Secretary Martin Andanar, citing the report of Philippine National Police spokesperson Senior Supt. Dionardo Carlos, said the crime volume in July 2016 was at 50,817 or 5,522 incidents lower compared to July 2015’s 56,339.
“With the crime rate in the country going down, the campaign against illegal drugs and crime is continuing to have positive results, a month after President [Rodrigo] Duterte assumed office,” Andanar said during an interview over state-run dzRB.
Andanar said the index crime rate also went down from 17,105 incidents to 11,800 in July or a 31-percent decrease compared to the same month last year.
Crime versus property also decreased by 40.3 percent from 11,106 incidents last year to 4,476 in July this year.
Andanar said statistics on crimes against persons deceased by 829 incidents or 13.82 percent.
The three most prevalent crimes were theft, physical injury, and robbery, he said.
Andanar said the lower crime rate was proof that “hardline” solutions and “quick action” are making a change.
“Our call on our people is, let us continue our work with the Philippine National Police to further decrease crime in the country,” Andanar said.