A GROUP of human rights activists from across Southeast Asia yesterday urged the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte to stop the spate of killings in the country.

They want the present administration to reconsider its strategy relative to its fight against illegal drugs.

“Instead of bringing security and the rule of law, we believe that the violent campaign against the drug trade has made the country more unsafe with innocent people killed, drugs lords evading arrest and murder cases arising,” said the Young Progressives in Southeast Asia.

The group called a press conference yesterday and signed a manifesto against extrajudicial killings.

Commission on Human Rights (CHR) chairperson Chito Gascon, who led the signing of manifesto, described the country’s war on drugs as “unprecedented” because of the 4,700 deaths recorded.

“We hope that the war on drugs and the fight versus crime will be undertaken in a way that is consistent with the Constitution that guarantees respect for human rights at all time,” he said.

The group voiced its concern over the “brutal killings,” saying it is a “blatant disrespect” to human rights and the civil liberties of its own citizens.

They said the National Government seems to have lost control of its anti-illegal drugs campaign.

A total of 4,737 people have been killed in just a span of three months.

They also lamented the “senseless killings” of two minors: Althea Barbon, 4, of Negros Occidental and Danica May Garcia, 5, of Dagupan City.

Barbon was hit by a bullet that police fired at her father, drug suspect Aldrick Barbon, during a chase in Guihulngan City while Garcia was killed by a bullet supposedly for her grandfather who is also drug suspect.

“We call on the Philippine government to condemn the murder spree, immediately solve the vigilante killings, act on the failed police operations, and serve justice to the families of the murdered,” they said.

“We call on the Philippine government to address the drug problems as a health and human rights issue by investing in and strengthening the country’s rehabilitation programs,” they added.

The group believes the National Government should utilize its power responsibly by undertaking a “systematic rehabilitation efforts for drug addicts” who have surrendered.

They also suggested to the government to refocus its war on drugs by including harm reduction for all drug users.