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Bato’s refusal to release police info on drug war, a disgraceful attempt to escape accountability

January 24, 2018

QUEZON CITY – “PNP Chief Ronaldo ‘Bato’ Dela Rosa’s refusal to release information on police operations regarding the drug war campaign is a disgraceful attempt to escape accountability, not that one can expect integrity from the Philippine National Police anyway.

Releasing information on the drug war would indeed endanger cops, in the sense that they will be legally prosecuted and made accountable for their murder spree in urban poor communities,” said Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay.

According to the PNP, they have documented 3,000 casualties under the Duterte government’s anti-drug campaign, though estimates from the media and human rights groups give out a much higher figure of at least 12,000. The Supreme Court ordered the PNP to provide the full documentation on the aforementioned deaths. On January 22, PNP Chief Dela Rosa appealed to the SC, citing the “sensitivity” of the information requested.

“Hiding behind the ambiguous and arbitrary keyword of “national security,” police impunity has been blatantly tolerated by the Duterte regime. Despite the admission of police abuses by no less than the institution’s Chief, the PNP still insists on what it calls ‘internal cleansing’, shielding cops from the full force of the law,” said Palabay.

The Karapatan secretary general added that “allowing the police to mete out punishment to its own ranks is akin to allowing your barkada to lightly hit your back. This completely does nothing to exact accountability nor does it provide justice for the victims of police abuses. Honestly, who are they kidding?”

On January 12, the PNP Chief himself admitted that cops demanded money from alleged drug users and sellers to have their names removed from the drug list. Palabay also cited cases in 2017, including the killing of Korean businessman Jee Ick Joo inside the PNP headquarters in Camp Crame on February 2017 and the charade that followed the investigation of the killing of 17-year-old Kian delos Santos on August of last year, as indications of how police impunity have exacerbated in the country.

“The police is accountable to the Filipino people, lest they forget that. It is the mandate of the PNP to serve and to protect, yet in the current and past administrations, they have been among the main instruments of repression and abuses. The basic and simple fact of the matter is that releasing this information will jumpstart the independent investigation on the PNP’s conduct in the war on drugs. Clearly, however steadfast the PNP may be in claiming that the 3,000 deaths were all cases of ‘self-defense,’ closer scrutiny may and will reveal deliberate rights abuses done at the expense of the poor’s right to due process,” concluded Palabay.

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