By Office of Senator Chiz Escudero
February 7, 2017
PASAY CITY – Sen. Chiz Escudero has filed a resolution pushing the Senate to investigate the allegations of Amnesty International that killings related to the government's war against illegal drugs were extrajudicial executions carried out by gunmen hired by police officers to kill and plant evidence.
Escudero, former chair of the Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights, filed Senate Resolution No. 282 directing the appropriate Senate committee to probe into the report by AI, saying it must not be simply set aside as it raises serious allegations that can undermine the Philippines’ reputation as a democratic country that fundamentally recognizes and upholds human rights.
“I found AI to be radical at times if you look into our history. The filing of resolution is really not meant to give AI a platform. It is to allow AI to prove their allegations because by that report, they besmirched the reputation of the country.”
He also added that the legislative inquiry would be an avenue to verify the accuracy of the report and give the people and institutions involved an opportunity to respond to the findings.
“It is not only a matter of necessity but public accountability as well that AI substantiate and present its evidence before the Senate for public scrutiny to confirm the report’s veracity and to hold, or otherwise clear, the Philippine government of any responsibility,” Escudero said.
“Sure or not, they already besmirched the name of our country by saying that these violations are committed by the state itself,” the senator said.
According to the report released by the international human rights watchdog, “the police paid killers on their payroll, and unknown armed individuals have slain more than a thousand people a month under the guise of a national campaign to eradicate drugs,” adding that the administration’s war on drugs is actually a “war against the poor.”
AI also alleged the use of a mere “watch list,” which contents are based on hearsay, community rumor or rivalry, with little verification.
In their report, AI also detailed the story of a police officer with the rank of Senior Police Officer 1, who served in the PNP for a decade and is currently part of the anti-illegal drugs unit in Metro Manila. According to the source, the police paid per “encounter” – the term used to mask the extrajudicial killings as legitimate operations conducted by the authorities. The police officer claimed that the amount paid by the police ranges from P8,000 to P15,000 per person, per encounter.
“The logic it presents is that this money is coming from the government, that is a serious allegation that would immediately connect the state to what is happening outside the EJKs (extrajudicial killings) and that would mean it is already state sponsored. That is a very serious allegation and AI cannot simply make that allegation and say ‘sorry all of our sources are confidential, we cannot reveal it.’”
Since the Duterte administration came into power, the Philippine National Police has conducted almost 41,000 drug-related operations from July 2016 to January 2017.
According to AI, more than 7,000 people have been killed in the drug war, with the police directly killing at least 2,500 alleged drug offenders.
Furthermore, Escudero cautioned the administration against giving too much power to the police force and treating erring officers with kid gloves.
“The worst fear of many people already happened. It went into the head of the policemen. Not all, but some,” he said. “We want to see the PNP leadership pursue with the same vigor as drug suspects the scalawags, misfits and erring policemen.”