MANILA -- The House committee on public order and safety has decided to stop using the phrase "extrajudicial killing" to refer to the unresolved deaths amid the relentless war on illegal drugs.
This, after Deputy Speaker Gwendolyn Garcia questioned the use of the term "extrajudicial killing" in the absence of capital punishment or death penalty in the country.
"I am really curious what the definition of extrajudicial killing is because extrajudicial would mean outside of the parameters of a judicial killing," Garcia said in a motion. "We don’t have the death penalty in the Philippines. How could we have such a thing as a judicial killing?"
"There is the condition of the possibility of a judicial proceeding or legal process. This definition may apply to the 10 top countries that still have capital punishment... But here in the Philippines, there is no such possibility because we do not have the death penalty,” she added.
Garcia proposed instead to adopt the term "death under investigation" being used by the Philippine National Police (PNP).
Committee chair and Antipolo Rep. Romeo Acop approved Garcia's motion.
Meanwhile, PNP Director for Plans Lazarus Vargas said the police never used the phrase "extrajudicial killing."
"We use the term 'death under investigation' because as you’ve (Garcia) earlier said there is no such thing as extrajudicial killing... It is used by organizations outside the PNP. It did not come from us," he explained.
Vargas also noted that the so-called "extrajudicial killing" is not part of the campaign against illegal drugs.
The ABS-CBN Investigative and Research Group has tallied 1,580 drug-related deaths between May 10 and September 16. Sixty percent or 938 suspects were killed in police operations while 521 (32 percent) were murdered by unidentified assailants and 121 were bodies found away from the crime scene.
MAP, CHARTS: The Death Toll of the War on Drugs