5,000 'nanlaban' killings, zero records? Rights group blasts slays without probes

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 19 2019 12:20 PM

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MANILA - The Philippine National Police should be transparent with its records of deaths of alleged drug personalities during operations if these people died while resisting arrest, an international watchdog said Tuesday.

Police Col. Bernard Banac, spokesman for the PNP, said the conviction of 3 police officers over the death of Kian Delos Santos shows that the justice system in the country works. 

Police involved in the operation had said Delos Santos was shot for resisting arrest. But surveillance footage showed the teenager was dragged into a dark alley.

Carlos Conde of the Human Rights Watch said the 17-year-old's case is an outlier, and the PNP should cooperate in the investigation of the 5,000 other cases of "nanlaban."

"If they’re willing to accept publicly that those 5,000 were killed because nanlaban, why are they not releasing the records of all those cases? Why are they not to subject each and everyone of those deaths to investigation if it was indeed nanlaban?" he told ANC's Early Edition.

"From my perspective, it taxes credulity that all of those 5,000 people actually fought back that’s why they were killed. If that claim is true, obviously, the need is for that claim to be investigated—but we don’t see that," he said.

In the interview, the PNP spokesman said the national police is "continuously building up on the cases" and will file charges against supposedly erring officers. 

"The investigation is ongoing and we have to give it time. We cannot rush things…That is part of the mandate of PNP to conduct the investigation and give justice to the victims," he said.

"This is the assurance we leave to the public, that the PNP will do its best because we remain to be a professional organization," he added.

AFTER ICC EXIT

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The PNP should cooperate with the investigation of alleged killings and human rights violations linked to the war on drugs event after the country's withdrawal from the International Criminal Court, said Conde.

The PNP and the government "have been trying to block attempts by human rights groups to get documents and to get to the bottom of these killings," said Conde.

"Now that we’re not members of the (ICC) the fear here is that impunity will persist. That’s one mechanism that has been taken out of the picture," he said.

"It is quite disappointing that instead of us, the Philippines, upholding our human rights commitments, we are backing away from it. We are sliding from it," he said.

Banac, however, said the PNP will cooperate with any investigation if it receives a directive from the executive department, where the request will have to go through the correct process.