The government's war on drugs "has targeted and negatively affected" the poor, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) said in a report submitted to the United Nations (UN). Citing statements made by Philippine National Police (PNP) Director General Ronald "Bato" M. dela Rosa during a Senate inquiry, the CHR also noted that more than a thousand deaths occurrred during police operations. "As of 15 September 2016, there are 2,035 deaths under investigation by the Philippine National Police, and 1,105 people killed during police operations," the CHR said in its written statement on the occasion of the UN Committee on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights' scheduled review of the Philippines. Data released by the PNP over the weekend indicates that the latter number has increased to 1,216 as of September 24.
According to the CHR, it is currently investigating 144 cases of extrajudicial killings under the Duterte administration, 531 under the Aquino administration from July 2010 to June 2016, and 941 cases during the Arroyo administration from 2001 to June 2010. In August, presidential spokesperson Ernesto C. Abella had noted that the drug problem is a public health concern related to poverty. While the issue of extrajudicial killings is part of the CHR parallel report submitted to the UN, the issue is not part of the agenda of the UN review of the Philippines next week, which will cover economic, social, and cultural rights. CHR Chair Jose Luis Martin "Chito" C. Gascon noted, however, that the issue is instead expected to be discussed by the UN during its "universal periodic review" scheduled in April 2017. He was not immediately available for further details. The rising number of deaths has already gotten international attention, with the European Parliament and the United States both expressing concern.
In response, President Rodrigo R. Duterte let loose an angry tirade, cursing the European Union, and saying that he does not owe US President Barack Obama any explanation. Several foreign business groups such as the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (ECCP), the Nordic Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (NorCham), and the American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (AmCham) have also voiced concern over the war against the illegal drug trade in the country. "Certainly, the illegal drug menace is a serious threat in the Philippines, as it is in the US and elsewhere. However, the increased number of killings during the heightened anti-drug campaign is harming the country's image, as portrayed by international media, and some investors are now asking whether this campaign reduced the rule of law," the AmCham said in a statement earlier this month.
CHR urges UN to ask PHL govt to invite rapporteurs The CHR urged the United Nations to call on the Philippine government to grant the country visit requests of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders; the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions; and the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association. While the Duterte administration said it welcomes the UN Rapporteur on Human Rights, it has not sent out a formal invitation, which is needed for the body to conduct its investigation in the country. “Though there is no formal invitation, the Duterte administration welcomes the United Nations Rapporteur on Human Rights to come over and look into the alleged human rights concerns—a clear manifestation that this administration has nothing to hide before the international community,” Presidential Communications Office chief Secretary Martin Andanar said in a statement. The CHR also requested the UN to call on the Philippine government to take measures to show that the government is doing everything it can to prevent the present killings from becoming a "widespread, systematic practice." It also asked that the Philippines ratify the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance.