De Lima formally seeks probe into spate of drug killings

Adrian Ayalin, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 14 2016 02:55 PM | Updated as of Jul 15 2016 01:40 AM

Senator Leila de Lima. Jonathan Cellona. ABS-CBN News

MANILA – Senator Leila de Lima has filed a resolution seeking an investigation into the spate of killings of suspected drug criminals since the start of the Duterte administration.

De Lima wants the Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights to investigate, in aid of legislation, the growing number of suspected drug criminals being killed during police operations as well as the alarming rise of vigilante killings.

In her resolution, De Lima cited a broadsheet report which states that ''for just 13 days since the presidential inauguration on June 30 up to 12 July 2016… the death toll of extrajudicial and summary killings had already reached 136."

De Lima also cited the ABS-CBN Investigative and Research Group's report that the body count from May 10 to July 12 had reached 339.

MAP, CHARTS: The Death Toll of the War on Drugs

''And there is no indication that the statistics will go down anytime soon,'' she said.

The senator said the inquiry aims to "strengthen the mechanisms of accountability of law enforcers and to institute corrective legislative measures to ensure full respect for basic human rights, especially the right to life."

De Lima's call for a Senate inquiry into the spate of killings earlier drew a sharp rebuke from Solicitor General Jose Calida who said the investigation is only after ''media mileage''.

''We will defend them...If there is a fiscalizer, I am the neutralizer and the defender of the PNP," Calida earlier said.

''The office of the Solicitor General will be the first line of defense. We will assess whether the investigation is really in aid of legislation. If it is not, then we will advise the PNP not to attend."

Calida also questioned De Lima for her supposed failure to stop illegal drug transactions inside the national penitentiary when she was the Justice Secretary under the Aquino administration.

Incoming House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez also nixed the proposed Senate probe, saying laws and mechanisms are already in place to investigate and prosecute erring police officials and those who carry out vigilante killings.

De Lima served as the Chair of the Commission on Human Rights under the Arroyo administration. De Lima is expected to chair the Senate Justice and Human Rights Committee.