Activists, artists hold anti-killings drive in Manila

Campaign seeks to build solidarity among people living on frontline of anti-drugs war
Activists, artists hold anti-killings drive in Manila

Children in an urban poor community in the village of San Roque in Quezon City join a one-day theater workshop conducted by artists on Feb. 4 to create human rights awareness especially in slums where most of the drug-related killings around the Philippine national capital happen. (Photo by Mark Saludes)

February 8, 2017
Faith-based activists are visiting urban communities in the suburbs of the Philippine capital to conduct activities aimed to deter vigilante-style killings that have become rampant amid the government's anti-narcotics war.

Some 7,000 suspected drug users and dealers have been killed in the past seven months after President Rodrigo Duterte launched a campaign against illegal drugs.

"People have to be informed of their rights and taught what to do in case they face such a situation," said Agong Capus, spokeswoman of the ecumenical church group Rise Up.

Agong said most victims of the killings came from urban poor communities, where people seldom report incidents of unlawful arrests or warrantless searches.

A group of artists are also holding a "social awareness" campaign in poor districts of the city.

Edwin Quinsayas, spokesman of Respond and Break the Silence Against the Killings, said they hold art workshops, exhibits, film screening, and performances that aim to "foster solidarity" with the people.

He said the government's anti-drug war has "systematically encouraged the violation of basic human rights."

Nardy Sabino, spokesman of the Promotion of Church People's Response, said the "culture of fear" in communities "tolerates the culture of impunity."

"If we will be silent on these issues that affect the lives of the poor, it will only justify the slaughter of thousands," said Sabino.

On Feb. 5, bishops urged Catholics to condemn the drug-related killings.

The Philippine National Police has announced that it has suspended its anti-illegal drugs operations following the killing of a South Korean national by police officials inside police headquarters in Manila.


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