UUSC’s Work in the Philippines
In June 2016, the Philippines inaugurated a new president, Rodrigo Duterte, whose 20-year tenure as Mayor of Davao City included more than 1,000 documented instances of extrajudicial killings (EJKs) and disappearances associated with his “Davao Death Squad.”
Since his election as president, Duterte’s war on drugs has had devastating consequences: more than 7,000 people have been killed by police and vigilantes; 53,000 have been arrested; and more than 1.1 million have “surrendered” to authorities in order to avoid being killed.
Duterte and his so-called drug war have been roundly criticized by the international community, condemned by the UN and international human rights groups, and could serve as grounds for a future investigation by the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court. In a February 2017 report, Amnesty International concluded that the killings may amount to crimes against humanity.
Despite claiming that he would end the war on drugs after three-to-six months in office, Duterte recently pledged to continue the illegal campaign of EJKs through the end of his presidency in 2022.
Against this backdrop, UUSC’s consultant on-the-ground in the Philippines recently organized a meeting of UUSC’s partners to discuss the impact on and responsibilities of human rights groups in the Philippines under Duterte.
Since then, UUSC has funded projects by two of UUSC’s existing partners, the National Association of Social Work Educators, Inc. (NASWEI) and Visayas Primary Health Care Services (VPHCS), to document instances of EJKs and provide human rights trainings to community leaders. UUSC is also supporting IBON, an international human rights organization based in the Philippines, in human rights documentation, training, and education programs across the Philippines.
In addition, three of UUSC’s partners – the Philippine Association of Community Resiliency Model Skills Trainers (PhilACTS), Lihok Pilipina, and NASWEI – have utilized the innovative techniques that were a central pillar of UUSC’s post-Typhoon Yolanda strategy to build trauma resiliency in communities affected by the drug war. UUSC’s partners have now trained civil-society organizations, government officials, social workers, police, and family members impacted by the drug war in these trauma-resiliency techniques.
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