MANILA - There will be no end to "nanlaban" killings in the Philippines as long as Rodrigo Duterte remains president, an opposition senatorial candidate said Sunday.
Speaking at the 2nd "Harapan 2019: The ABS-CBN Senatorial Town Hall Debate", opposition bet Gary Alejano said the problem of extrajudicial killings (EJKs) goes far beyond police abuses or a broken criminal justice system but straight to the country's top leadership.
He said the country's leaders should not encourage police officers to violate the Constitution.
"Dapat ang mga leader na siyang mag-aayos ng ating PNP, hindi dapat inuudyukan ang ating PNP na i-violate ang Constitution. Hindi dapat inuudyukan ang pulis na labagin ang karapatang pantao. Habang nandiyan si President Duterte, hindi matatapos ang patayan sa Pilipinas," he said.
Extrajudicial killings was the first topic to be tackled in Sunday's debate. Opposition bets Mar Roxas and Erin Tañada both pushed for police to use body cameras and dash cameras to record police abuses, while former congressman Neri Colmenares rued the "infrastructure of impunity" in government that supports cops who are facing charges of abuse.
Independent candidate Agnes Escudero urged the PNP to strengthen the moral and spiritual guidance for cops; Senate bet Romulo Macalintal noted that extrajudicial killings only affect the poor; while former consultative committee spokesman Ding Generoso made a push for the draft federal constitution "that will make sure justice will be served."
Alejano noted that curbing police abuses should start at the recruitment process by removing all police recruits with even a "hint of corruption." He also pushed for the strengthening of the PNP Internal Affairs Service, saying police scalawags should be removed from service and not transferred elsewhere.
Around 5,000 drug suspects have been killed in anti-drug operations since the start of the Duterte administration. They allegedly fought back, prompting police and other security forces to kill them in self-defense. But human rights groups suspect many of these drug suspects were summarily executed.