MANILA - Manila Mayor Isko Moreno on Thursday defended his weekly public presentation of crime suspects arrested in the capital, saying their rights were never violated.
Moreno gave the statement hours after detained Senator Leila de Lima warned him against committing human rights violations by presenting suspects in press briefings.
“Wala. Magalang pa nga tayo sa totoo lang,” Moreno told reporters.
Last week, Moreno presented 35 drug suspects before the media. Another 14 drug users and peddlers stood behind him in an August 8 press conference.
“Hindi ko naman sila hinihiya although mga walanghiya ito,” the mayor said, noting that he never showed the faces of the suspects.
(I don't shame them even if what they do is shameful.)
“Inaalagaan ko pa nga pagkakakilanlan nila sa harap ng publiko. Pero kailangan makita ng mga taga-Maynila na may warm body,” he said.
(I even protect their identity before the public. But my constituents must see there is a warm body.)
“Puwede tayong usapang laway lang pero kung nakikita niyo talaga, hindi ba ito magbibigay ng kapanatagan? Hindi ba ito patunay na seryoso kami sa kampaniya? Paano yung human rights ng gusto matulog ng mahimbing?”
(We want to show this is not just lip service. This will show how serious we are in this campaign. Think about the human rights of those who want to sleep soundly.)
De Lima, in a statement, described Moreno’s public presentation of suspects as “violative of their constitutional right to the presumption of innocence.”
“Nakita po natin ang pagsisikap ni Mayor Isko na patalikurin ang mga nasabing suspek at maitago ang kanilang mukha. Gayumpaman, naiharap pa rin sila sa mga kawani ng media at mga taong naroon," the senator said.
(We saw the mayor's intent to hide the suspects' faces. However, their faces were still shown to members of the media and other people at the press conference.)
When asked to react to De Lima’s statement against the way he handles criminals, Moreno said: “You are entitled to your own opinion but for the meantime, being the Mayor of Manila, I have an obligation to clear the city of criminals.”
In June, the Philippine National Police issued an order banning the presentation of arrested suspects before the press.
Police officers who would not follow this order will face administrative charges, PNP officials said.
Manila City Legal Office chief Emeterio Moreno cited the PNP Reorganization Act of 1998 and DILG Reorganization Act of 1990 to defend the mayor’s actions.
Under the law, mayors have "operational supervision and control" of PNP units in their areas, he said.
‘NO EJK IN MANILA’
The Manila mayor said captured suspects in the capital either surrendered or were properly arrested by authorities.
“Hindi totoo ang EJK (extra judicial killing) as far as Manila is concerned,” Moreno said referring to the nationwide spate of drug-related killings allegedly perpetrated by policemen.
“Ang policy natin, hangga't maaari iwasan magkaengkuwentro. Kung hindi siya nanlaban, kukuhanin siya nang buhay,” he said.
(As much as possible, we don't want an encounter. If the suspect does not fight back, he will be arrested alive.)
The city government values the lives of the police but we also respect the lives of the suspects, he said.