Philippines: New Police Chief Should Tackle Abuses
Action Needed on Torture, Extrajudicial Killings
Manila — The Philippine National Police should hold to account all police officers responsible for human rights violations, Human Rights Watch said today in a letter to the police chief, Director General Ricardo Marquez. President Benigno Aquino III appointed Marquez to the position on July 14, 2015.
“Police chief Marquez has the opportunity to turn the Philippine National Police into a rights-respecting, professional organization,” said Phelim Kine, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “He has the duty and the responsibility to make sure that the national police meets its domestic and international human rights obligations.”
Marquez should ensure prompt, transparent, and impartial investigations of alleged police abuses, and take appropriate action against those responsible, regardless of rank, Human Rights Watch said. National police personnel have long been implicated in numerous human rights violations includingtorture and extrajudicial killings.
Task Force Usig, created by the Philippine National Police in 2006 to investigate the extrajudicial killings of activists and journalists, has only secured 9 convictions out of the 181 cases it has documented since 2001. Marquez should direct the task force to improve its investigation and documentation of cases of alleged extrajudicial killings, Human Rights Watch said. The task force should submit a regular – preferably monthly – progress report on the status of these cases.
Marquez should address the country’s epidemic of extrajudicial killings by acting on the recommendations of the May 2014 Human Rights Watch report on summary killings in Tagum City in Mindanao. Specific police officers assigned to the Tagum City police were identified as complicit in the operation and control of the so-called “Tagum Death Squad.” Marquez should reform the national police’s Human Rights Affairs Office, which has failed in its role as a monitor for police human rights violations.
“Marquez urgently needs to tackle the problem of rampant human rights abuses by the Philippine National Police,” Kine said. “It’s in his hands whether the police can transform itself from predator to protector of the people.”