Nagkaisa stressed out that aside from the thousands of victims of so-called extrajudicial killings (EJKs) under drug war, some 68 trade union leaders and organizers were also killed during the Duterte administration who equally deserve the same level of attention and justice.
“These trade union killings, along with the more than 400 case related to violation of freedom of association were among the grounds for the International Labor Organization-High-Level Tripartite Mission’s initial recommendation for the country to set up a Presidential-led commission to investigate the same,” said Nagkaisa Chair Sonny Matula.
The group looks with approval Solicitor General Menardo Guevarra's suggestion to create an independent commission to investigate the thousands of drug war killings, similarly with Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban’s idea of creating a modern-day Agrava Board.
The group, however, emphasized that this probe body on drug war, if constituted, should not be seen as an alternative to the International Criminal Court (ICC) ongoing investigation but primarily for purposes only of fact finding, identifying the victims, investigating the individual culprits and assist in their prosecution.
Nagkaisa likewise countered Secrtary Remulla’s rejection of the proposal, saying the Department of Justice (DOJ) cannot handle the investigation fairly and swiftly given the massive scale of the killings that need to be investigated. Officially, 6,252 were killed during the drug war from July 2016 to May 2022, according to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency. Human rights groups have, however, reported as many as 30,000 people killed in the Duterte administration’s campaign against illegal drugs.
“We believe that a credible, competent, and independent body like the proposed modern-day Agrava Board is necessary to investigate and prosecute the killings, identify the masterminds, and observe speed and due process in passing judgment,” said Matula.
The labor leader said further that the establishment of the high-level commission on drug war and the proposed presidential commission to investigate the killings of trade union leaders, “are significant steps towards addressing the human rights concerns surrounding the drug war and other forms of violence in the Philippines,” adding that the government's efforts to investigate and hold accountable those responsible for these killings will be crucial in restoring public trust in the justice system. ###
Nagkaisa Labor Coalition
19 March 2023
Ref: Atty. Sonny Matula