Speak­ing out for drug war vic­tims, Filip­ina fears for her safety

7 Days in Dubai - - GLOBAL NEWS -

When po­lice shot to death Harra Kazuo’s com­mon-law hus­band and his fa­ther fol­low­ing a drug raid in the Philip­pines, she sought one thing: jus­tice.

In a tele­vi­sion in­ter­view shortly after their deaths in July, the 26-year-old mother ac­cused two of­fi­cers of killing them in cold blood. She then re­counted the al­le­ga­tions be­fore a Philip­pine Sen­ate com­mit­tee in­ves­ti­gat­ing the coun­try’s bru­tal drug war in tes­ti­mony broad­cast na­tion­wide.

What Kazuo has got­ten in­stead, though, is a life les­son in the con­se­quences of speak­ing out. To­day, she lives with her three chil­dren in hid­ing, shel­tered by an ex­tra­or­di­nary wit­ness pro­tec­tion pro­gramme run by the coun­try’s in­de­pen­dent Com­mis­sion on Hu­man Rights, which has feared for her safety while it in­ves­ti­gates the case.

That such a pro­gramme ex­ists is pow­er­ful in­dict­ment of the lack of trust many here have in the coun­try’s no­to­ri­ously cor­rupt po­lice, who are spear­head­ing an anti-drug cam­paign that has left more than 4,000 peo­ple dead in just a few months. It also il­lus­trates the fail­ures of a bro­ken jus­tice sys­tem few be­lieve can hold any­one to ac­count.

Kazuo said she is push­ing the case be­cause “what is hap­pen­ing is not right”.

“I want them to feel how they treated my hus­band,” she said. “I want them to feel what it’s like for a fam­ily to lose a loved one.”

Al­though both of­fi­cers have been sus­pended and have at­tended pre­lim­i­nary hear­ings, city pros­e­cu­tor Or­lando Mar­i­ano said they re­main free and nei­ther has been in­dicted. If prose­cu­tors de­ter­mine the ev­i­dence is too weak, both men could be end up be­ing ab­solved.

Jose Luis Martin ‘Chito’ Gas­con, who di­rects the Mani­l­abased rights com­mis­sion, said no po­lice have been charged crim­i­nally in court since the drug war be­gan de­spite per­sis­tent re­ports of se­cu­rity forces sum­mar­ily ex­e­cut­ing drug sus­pects. Na­tional po­lice spokesman Dionardo Carlo, how­ever, said po­lice have been ar­rested and charged, but he could of­fer no de­tails. Ei­ther way, the killing of Kazuo’s fam­ily mem­bers “is the high­est pro­file case we’ve had so far, and it’s not even in court yet” Gas­con said. “So what do you think’s go­ing to hap­pen to the rest – the ones that got no at­ten­tion and have al­ready been for­got­ten?” Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte un­leashed his cam­paign to rid the coun­try of nar­cotics im­me­di­ately after tak­ing of­fice on June 30. The ef­fort has been praised by a pop­u­la­tion ex­as­per­ated by cor­rup­tion and crime, but it has been con­demned by the United Na­tions and ac­tivist groups be­cause of its stag­ger­ing death toll.

SCARED: Harra Kazuo

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UAE

© PressReader. All rights reserved.