Killing field? PNP rejects Amnesty International tag on Bulacan

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 09 2019 10:49 AM | Updated as of Jul 09 2019 11:13 AM

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MANILA -- Amnesty International made a "hasty, sweeping generalization" when it declared Bulacan province as the "bloodiest killing field" in the Philippines' war on drugs, police said Tuesday.

Bulacan, on the capital's northern edge, was "singled out" in the AI report said Colonel Bernardo Banac, spokesman of the Philippine National Police. Amnesty recorded 27 killings in the province from May 2018 to April 2019.

"I think the comment of the AI is hasty, a sweeping generalization of the situation in Bulacan. There have been many killings but these are ordinary homicide cases and all these have undergone investigation," he told ANC's Early Edition.

"We’re saying that because deaths have not only occurred in Bulacan, crime happens in all places in the country."

Banac said the number of crimes has decreased and peace and order in the country "significantly improved," citing surveys.

The Amnesty report was released ahead of a UN vote to adopt a resolution seeking to investigate the Philippines's anti-narcotics campaign.

Carlos Conde, Philippine researcher for Human Rights Watch’s Asia Division, said Manila has obligations to fulfill under human rights treaties.

"To be honest I don’t expect this government to full comply with whatever the UN will decide later on. But it has human rights obligation and unless it wants to get out of the Human Rights Council, out of the UN, if it can, it has these obligations," he said.

"Much as I am pessimistic about this government complying with the UN I still cling to that sliver of hope that it will at some point do that."

Conde said only 3 policemen who were involved in the killing of suspected teen drug courier Kian delos Santos were convicted out of thousands of drug war-related deaths.

Banac said a total of 414 policemen were dismissed due to drug-related charges. He said these cases included "coddling of suspects, protecting syndicates and those who have not attended drug-related cases at the courts."

"But in so far as the deaths of suspects under police operations, all these have undergone the proper investigation as a procedure whenever deaths occur in a police operation," he said.

"The cases are still ongoing and we leave it to the courts to determine the conviction. It’s not our fault that the process takes so long. On the part of the PNP we have done our part, we have investigated and filed charges."

Conde urged the police to release data on the drug war, citing "bureaucratic hoops."

"If the PNP is serious about being transparent, what keeps it from releasing all these documents to the public?" he said.

Banac said authorities release information on a "case-to-case basis" but data requested for drug war investigations should go through the Office of the Solicitor General, the government's chief lawyer.

In April, the Supreme Court ordered the OSG to furnish petitioners copies of thousands of police documents in relation to the drug war.