MANILA - The correct term for the killings during police operations being probed by the authorities is "homicides under investigations," according to the Philippine National Police (PNP).
Inspector General Alfegar Triambulo of the Internal Affairs Service (IAS) said there are no extrajudicial killings in the country because there is no death penalty, which is tantamount to judicial killing.
"Pag gumawa ka ng krimen, huhulihin ka ng pulis. Lilitisin ng korte. Pag mapatunayan, mapaparusahan. Walang napaparusahan [ng death penalty] kaya walang judicial killing. Kung walang judicial killing, walang extrajudicial killing," said Triambulo.
He said the PNP-IAS is currently investigating 2,000 cases of killings during police operations, which they call homicides under investigation.
This is contrary to Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano's earlier claim in an Al Jazeera interview that all the 3,800 killings during police operations are being investigated by proper authorities.
"Tinatawag namin yan na homicide under investigation. Lahat yan iniimbestigahan kung sino ang suspek," explained Triambulo, who added that they have also started looking into the records of police investigators to see if they have been diligent in solving cases.
Official numbers show 3,811 drug personalities were killed in anti-drug operations from July 1, 2016 to August 29, 2017, while 6,225 drug-related killings were recorded from July 2016 and September 2017.
PNP chief Director General Ronald "Bato" Dela Rosa, meanwhile, backed the police's definition of extra-judicial killings based from an administrative order from the previous administration.
"Killing 'yan, but my God, hindi namin nile-label 'yan na EJK. As per EO, di 'yan nagka-qualify na EJK," the top cop answered when asked about the numerous deaths resulting from the administration's war on drugs.
Administrative Order No. 35 defines EJKs as"killings where the victim was a member of, or affiliated with an organization, to include political, environmental, labor, or similar causes; or an advocate of the said cause; or a media practitioner apparently mistaken or identified to be so."
Dela Rosa admits he often flares up when asked about extra-judicial killings because he is hurt that the police are accused of such acts.
"Yes, nagfe-flare up ako. Nasasaktan ako [sa paulit-ulit na pagtanong at pagdiin]. Hindi ako plastic, normal akong tao. Minsan napipikon din ako," he said.