A human rights lawyer on Friday urged the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) to be more active in helping solve drug-related killings, especially in cases where police say suspects resist arrest and put up a fight.
Jose Manuel Diokno, founding dean of the De La Salle University College of Law and the current chairman of the Free Legal Assistance Group, said he will talk again to CHR Chairman Jose Luis Martin “Chito” Gascon and tell him about his proposal.
“I already told him that [the CHR should]have an active role in exposing the scheme of the police alleging that the drug addict or pusher had put up a fight. All they have to do is rush to the crime scene and interview the relatives if indeed the suspect had resisted arrest and drew his gun,” the son of the late iconic freedom fighter and lawyer Jose “Pepe” Diokno added.
“If we do these to expose these killings, then we will open the minds of the people and convince them to join us in opposing extra-judicial killings and stop this impunity,” he told The Manila Times after his 30-minute talk at a forum organized by the Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines-National Capital Region held at Adamson University in Ermita, Manila.
In Manila alone, on the average, at least three drug-related killings resulting from buy-busts take place.
Another forum speaker, Ryan Jeremiah Quan, also a lawyer who works at CHR, said such killings have become a new normal.
“According to the police, one third of these 8,000 killings were legitimate police operations. However, only about 400 are being investigated by the CHR. Relatives of the victims are afraid to express their outrage against the police for fear that they might be next in line,” Quan added.
He blamed social media and millions of followers of President Rodrigo Duterte for the apathy, making people not feeling any personal connection and making human rights an abstract notion.
Diokno urged the new leaders of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines to be more vocal against extrajudicial killings (EJKs) and the “new normal” killings of suspected drug pushers/users via buy-busts.
The DLSU dean called on President Duterte to fill up the vacant seats in courts, saying 20 percent of courts nationwide are still unoccupied. “Filling up these vacancies will help in [resolving]pending cases.”