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ABUSE | Almost half of violence vs civilians during lockdown done by the state – think tank
June 6, 2020 , 04:37 PM

June 06, 2020 – Almost half of the violence against civilians in the Philippines during the 76-day coronavirus lockdown were carried out by state forces, a US-based think tank has reported.

The number of human rights abuses in recent weeks have been “nearing levels seen before coronavirus measures were put in place,” said in an Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED) report.

The non-profit organization, which collects and analyzes data on political violence around the world, focused on the Philippines in its weekly conflict tracking report during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The US-based think tank said while the Philippines has registered a sharp initial drop when President Rodrigo Duterte announced quarantine measures in the middle of March, “reports of violence against civilians have continued during the lockdown.”

At least 47 percent of these incidents were perpetrated by state forces, ACLED said, more than those reported to have been committed by unidentified armed groups, anti-drug vigilantes, insurgents, terrorist forces, and armed drug suspects.

An ACLED report showed that 47% of violence against civilians during the lockdown in the Philippines was perpetrated by state forces.

There were several incidents when quarantine violators have been subjected to harsh punishments by law enforcement during the 76-day lockdown.

Notably, a police sergeant has shot dead a former army corporal for breaking stay-at-home orders. The police claimed Winston Ragos was about to draw a gun from his bag when he was shot twice.

But the National Bureau of Investigation found no gun among the belongings of the soldier, who was discharged after suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

Charges of murder, perjury, and planting of evidence have been filed against the policemen.

The ACLED report has also noted the passage of a controversial anti-terrorism bill by Congress.

Serious concerns have been raised with draconian provisions, such as the power of the Anti-Terrorism Council (ATC) to designate individuals and groups as terrorists, as well as lengthening warrantless arrests for up to 24 days.

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) also expressed concern with the pending enactment of the bill, citing it had the same “heavy-handed” approach when it came to the drug war.

The report by High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet criticized the government for its serious human rights abuse under Duterte, as well as the “near impunity” for its failure to hold state forces accountable for the violations. (Katrina Elaine Alba/MM)

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