Philippines: New PNP Chief a leading architect of the deadly drug war

3 September 2020, 12:46 UTC |

Responding to the appointment of Police Lt Gen Camilo Cascolan as the new chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP), Amnesty International Philippines Section Director, Butch Olano, said

“Police Lt Gen Cascolan is no stranger to the deadly drug war. As the PNP’s former operations chief and co-author of the murderous strategy behind Oplan Double Barrel, he has played a key role in enabling thousands of unlawful killings at the hands of the police. The fact that Cascolan has been promoted to the highest police position in the land shows the alarming levels of impunity in the country.

Butch Olano, Amnesty International Philippines Section Director

“Cascolan’s stated plan to use small-time drug pushers as ‘leads’ – instead of killing them – to build cases against drug lords is a blatant case of too little, too late. It is high time for the countless unlawful PNP killings, arbitrary arrests, acts of torture, ill-treatment and other abuses to end.

“Instead of ending police abuses, President Duterte’s administration is promoting its key instigators. Once again, this shows why the UN Human Rights Council must open an independent international investigation into gross human rights violations and possible crimes against humanity committed as part of the “war on drugs.” The International Criminal Court must also urgently expedite its examination into the situation and open a full and thorough criminal investigation, into the situation, to provide justice for thousands of victims and ensure prosecution of those with command responsibility.”

Background

On 1 September, President Rodrigo Duterte appointed PLtGen. Camilo Cascolan, co-author of Oplan Double Barrel, as the new Philippine National Police chief. In a radio interview following his appointment, Cascolan said that he plans to use small-time drug pushers for leads on high-value targets, and initiate internal cleansing in the PNP. Amnesty International’s first report on the ‘war on drugs’ in 2017 titled “If you are poor, you are killed”: Extrajudicial killings in the Philippines’ “war on drugs” showed that many drug-related killings are extrajudicial executions that directly implicate the police, or involve unknown shooters serving as paid assassins by police officers. A second report in 2019, “They just kill”: Ongoing extrajudicial executions and other violations in the Philippines’ “war on drugs”, showed that extrajudicial executions at the hands of the police and their associates continue, and that police officers involved in deadly anti-drug operations are either transferred or rewarded with higher positions.