'Killing of drug suspects leading to culture of violence'

RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 08 2016 11:57 PM

President Rodrigo Duterte names alleged drug lords and "persons of interest" involved in the drug trade during a press conference at the Malacanan Palace on Thursday. Duterte has vowed to crack down on illegal drug use and criminality in the country during his term as president. Malacanang photo

MANILA - Congressional investigations on the extrajudicial killings as well as killings of persons linked to illegal drugs loom as lawmakers warned against the onset of a culture of violence.

Ifugao Rep. Teddy Baguilat has filed a resolution calling for such an investigation, even as he raised the alarm over the possible onset of a culture of violence in the anti-crime campaign.

"Yung culture of violence ang ayaw natin dito at saka yung rule of law, due process," Baguilat said. "And if you look at it positively, malay mo during the hearings may mamungkahi na batas na kailangan palitan o palakasin."

"Kahit sino pinapatay ng kung sino. Ano ba mindset ng PNP (Philippine National Police)? Krimen din siya kasi murder siya. Kung hahayaan ito at 'di iimbestigahan, baka in the future maabuso. Kahit sinong maatraso sa pulis o sa kapitan, politician, lalo parating ang barangay election, mag-contract ng assassin, papapatay na lang, pagbibintangan sila'y durugista," he added.

He said this culture of violence may be reinforced further by the simultaneous proposal to reimpose the death penalty by lethal injection.

"Ang gusto natin in the long run, pag-aralan ang judicial reform. Bakit nagkakaroon ng extrajudicial killings? Bakit imbes na hulihin at kasuhan suspects, minsan parang may shortcut?" he said.

"Kahit saan mo tingnan na anggulo, 'di pangkaraniwan ang increase ng killings of drug pushers... Gusto natin balikan ano ba ang police operations manual sa pagdakip ng suspects."

READ: Congress probe eyed amid rising drugs slays

Baguilat also said that no big fish has been caught, raising the possibility that the killings are meant to silence possible witnesses against those higher up in the illegal drugs trade.

"Kung bukas ang PNP na matulungan ng Kongreso sila sa law enforcement, itong drug pushers maaaring dakipin sila, informants pigain, para kumanta lalo," he said. "In a way, sana constructive ang tingin ng PNP sa panawagan natin na magkaroon ng congressional hearing."

Baguilat is also worried that the police might end up mistaken in the personalities they link to drugs.


Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate supports the call for an investigation as he echoed the same sentiments. 

"This is very alarming. It may affect the campaign against drug syndicates. This can be used by drug syndicates to silence mga taong maraming alam. Alam naman natin ang drug syndicates na-penetrate even the police forces as mentioned by Pangulong Digong," he noted.

"Sinusuportahan natin ang campaign criminality but kailangan sumunod sa due process of law. Imbestigahan. There is no substitute to no-nonsense investigation... We cannot resort to shortcut kind of justice. It's a myth that vigilantism will solve crimes," he said.


At the Senate, Senator Leila de Lima had warned against possible human rights violations of the anti-illegal drugs campaign. 

"Maganda siya kasi pinapakita yung kanyang determinasyon na he's really dead serious in his campaign against corruption, against criminality, particularly drugs. On the other hand, because sa pagka-overzealous nila sa campaign nila against criminality ay nagkakaroon talaga ng pagkakataon ng mga posible na paglalabag na mga karapatan," she said.

De Lima was a former chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) and secretary of the Department of Justice (DOJ) who had been critical of Duterte's human rights record during the last presidential campaign.

Incoming Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III, however, frowned at the idea of any Senate investigations.

"Napolcom (National Police Commission) and DOJ ang dapat mag-investigate. Senate? What legislation are we looking to warrant an inquiry?" Sotto said.

READ: Alvarez thumbs down congressional probe on drug slays