Palace ready for Senate probe on extrajudicial slays

Dharel Placido, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 29 2017 12:09 PM

MANILA – Malacañang on Friday said it shares the concerns raised by senators on the spate of drug-related deaths, but it stressed that alleged cases of extrajudicial killings in the country are not state-sanctioned.

“While the President is harsh against those involved in illegal drugs, he is equally appalled by misdemeanors of police scalawags. We thus welcome the Senate’s investigations and inquiries on erring police personnel as a manifestation of a freely functioning and democratic State mechanism,” Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said in a statement.

“There is relentless effort on the part of the Philippine National Police (PNP) to carry out their operations properly and within legal processes,” he added.

Abella emphasized that even the Senate committees on justice and human rights, and on public order and illegal drugs have concluded that there are no state-sponsored killings in the country.

Abella also stressed that the government does not tolerate errant cops who use the war on drugs as an excuse to commit illegal acts.

Hitting the criticisms against the government’s war on drugs, Abella noted the gains achieved by the administration in the campaign, such as the surrender of 1,308,078 drug users, arrest of 107,156 drug personalities, rescue of 578 minors, and the seizure of 2,465.65 kilograms of shabu worth P12.7 billion pesos, as of August 29, 2017.

“[These are] facts overlooked by our critics,” he said.

Abella also noted that more than 1,900 drug-related investigations of allegations against law enforcement officials have been carried out between July 1, 2016 and June 15, 2017 by the Philippine National Police Internal Affairs Service (IAS).

He said of this total, 1,045 cases have moved to the administrative proceedings stage and 159 law enforcement officials are now facing dismissal from service, with many others undergoing pre-charge investigations or summary hearings. 

“These erring persons in uniform do not have a place in a State organization which is a human rights duty-bearer, with a primary role to protect the right to life, liberty, and property of the people by way of an effective anti-illegal drug campaign,” Abella said.

SENATE RESOLUTIONS

Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III led the Senate majority bloc in filing Senate Resolution No. 518, which condemned extrajudicial killings in the "strongest sense."

Sixteen members of the majority signed the resolution except Sen. Joel Villanueva, who was on sick leave but communicated his agreement.

“The Senate is against the violent death of every Filipino, and will seek justice for its victims," Pimentel said.

“Let it be known that the Senate, as the bastion of democracy, will not surrender its duty to protect and defend the human rights of every Filipino," he added.

Prior to the filing of Senate Resolution No. 518, a similar resolution condemning the spate of drug-related killings was filed by 6 minority senators, namely Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, Senators Francis Pangilinan, Paolo Benigno Aquino IV, Risa Hontiveros, Antonio Trillanes IV, and Leila de Lima.

Joining the 6 minority lawmakers in filing Senate Resolution No. 516 were Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto, and Senators Grace Poe, Francis Escudero, Joseph Victor Ejercito, Juan Edgardo Angara, Loren Legarda, Joel Villanueva, Sherwin Gatchalian, Nancy Binay, and Panfilo Lacson.

The 7 senators from the majority who did not sign Senate Resolution 516, namely Senate President Pimentel, Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III, Senators Richard Gordon, Cynthia Villar, Juan Miguel Zubiri, Gregorio Honasan, and Manny Pacquiao, were heavily criticized.

The senators who were bashed online for not signing Resolution No. 516 claimed they were not aware of the said resolution when it was still up for signing. This prompted the filing of Senate Resolution 518 which now includes the entire Senate majority.