Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte gestures as he delivers his speech during a military parade at the military headquarters in Manila on July 1, 2016. (Photo credit – TED ALJIBE/AFP)

On the occasion of President Rodrigo Duterte’s visit to Singapore, we, the undersigned, would like to express our serious concern over the ongoing violent drug war in the Philippines.

Since the beginning of July 2016 to earlier this month, the number of extrajudicial killings in the Philippines is reported to have exceeded 5,800. Individuals suspected of having been involved with drugs have been killed by the military and the police, and news of vigilante killings have become commonplace. In a story recently published by The New York Times, photojournalist Daniel Berehulak documented 57 murder victims in just 35 days.

During his speech at the United Nations General Assembly on the death penalty, Singapore’s Foreign Affairs Minister Vivian Balakrishnan stated that “all human life is sacred”, and emphasised the importance of “an unwavering commitment to the rule of law”. “There must be fair and transparent laws and due process,” he said – a situation that is currently sadly lacking in the Philippines when it comes to drug crime. In October 2016, the Singapore delegation to the United Nations General Assembly Third Committee stated: “Singapore strongly condemns extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, which constitutes gross violations of human rights.”

While we might disagree on Singapore’s stance on capital punishment, we agree with the Singapore government that extrajudicial killings cannot be condoned. We hope the Singapore government will stand by their condemnation of extrajudicial killings, and raise this important issue with President Duterte during his visit.

We also note that leaders in the Philippines’ House of Representatives are seeking to pass a bill that would reintroduce the death penalty before Congress adjourns for the holidays. We are alarmed at the haste with which this bill is being pushed through. The Philippines is a State Party to the 2nd Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which requires a commitment to not carry out executions within its jurisdiction.

We stand in solidarity with and offer our support to human rights defenders in the Philippines who are urging the House of Representatives to stop attempts to reintroduce capital punishment.


Alvin Tan Cheong Keong
Annette del Rosario
Aura Antonio
Braema Mathi
Chew Kheng Chuan
Chng Suan Tze
Chong Ning Qian
Community Action Network
Humanist Society*
Indulekshmi Rajeswari
Jason Soo
Jolene Tan
Joshua Chiang Sheue Liang
Loretta Marie Perera
Margaret Thomas
Nabilah Husna
Noelle Q. de Jesus
Noor Effendy Ibrahim
Ranjana Raghunathan
Singapore Anti-Death Penalty Campaign
Tan Tee Seng
Teo Soh Lung
Terry Xu
The Local Rebel
Think Centre
Thum Ping Tjin
Vanessa Ho
Vivienne Wee
Wake Up Singapore
We Believe in Second Chances
Zubaida Binte Mohamed Ali

*HumanistSG is still deliberating on the issues surrounding penal code related capital punishment, but is generally against the deliberate actions to end lives.
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