MANILA - The chief of the Philippine National Police on Wednesday said allegations of irregularities in anti-drug operations must be brought before proper venues and not just the media.
Gen. Guillermo Eleazar said there is "presumption of regularity" in these drug war operations, but it is "always open for investigation."
"In fact, we encourage those who are aggrieved parties na mag-complain kayo sa tama. Hindi naman puwedeng sa media lang, kasi kung sa media lang, ano naman ang pupuntahan nun? Puro di umano, sinabi nito, sinabi noon," he told ANC's Headstart.
"Walang tinatago ang ating Philippine National Police at ako, during my administration, lagi kong sinasabi na hindi natin paninindigan kung nagkamali at after investigation ay may pagkakamali ay dapat panagutan yan to give importance on accountability dapat bawat isa sa amin ay sinusunod," he said.
(In fact, we encourage those who are aggrieved parties to complain in the right places. It should not only be to the media because if that's the case, where will that go? It will only be hearsay. The Philippine National Police is not hiding anything, and during my administration, I always say that we will not condone wrongdoing and if after an investigation it comes out that there were shortcomings, one must take responsibility for it to give importance on accountability that we all must follow.)
Eleazar said most accusations of abuses by police authorities are not supported by evidence or did not materialize into criminal charges as the parties opted not to file formal complaints.
"Ang imbestigasyon is based on evidence at napansin natin, observation ko, maraming mga kaso tayo na wala namang ebidensiya...But in the conduct of investigation in any investigating body, ay kailangan mayroon tayong basehan," he said.
(An investigation is based on evidence, and I noted that many cases were not backed by evidence. But in the conduct of investigation in any investigating body, there must be basis.)
Eleazar also pointed out that while there were indeed about 6,000 fatalities in police operations under the war on drugs, about 293,000 other suspects were arrested. The death count, therefore, accounts only for 2 percent of the total, he said.
He added, there were also 12,356 "high value targets" accosted under this administration's anti-narcotics campaign.
The top police official said although President Rodrigo Duterte has given "shoot to kill" orders, these are only valid during police operations where the suspect seems to endanger the officer's life.
"Binabalik pa rin sa principle ng self-defense, which is afforded to all of us...Pag nag-violate ka dyan ay kakasuhan ka. Hindi naman ibig sabihin na sinabi ng Presidente, 'Tumalon ka dyan sa bangin,' ay tatalon na kami… Hindi naman kami mga walang isip na mga pulis," he said.
(It reverts back to the principle of self-defense, which is afforded to all of us. If you violate this, you can be sued. It doesn't mean that if the President says, 'Jump over this cliff,' then we will jump. We are not mindless police officers.)
A monitoring by the ABS-CBN Investigative and Research Group pegs the number of drug-related fatalities from May 10, 2016 to June 30, 2021 at 6,840. Among these, 4,651 were killed in operations conducted by law-enforcement agencies.