THE Commission on Human Rights (CHR) criticized the cover used by the Philippine National Police (PNP) in justifying the extrajudicial killings (EJKs) resulting from the government’s drug war.
“Limiting the [PNP’s] definition of EJK based only on a focused operational definition provided in Administrative Order 35 would discount killings that are also perpetrated by state agents and non-state actors that remain uninvestigated,” the Commission said in a statement.
It added: “Thousands of deaths have been reported to be committed by both vigilante and police personnel during the ongoing anti-illegal drug operations. The Commission maintains that killing must never be an option to solve the drug problem in the country.”
Quoting former United Nations Special Rapporteur Philip Alston, the CHR said EJK “encompasses any killing by government forces as well as killings by any other groups or individuals which the government fails to investigate, prosecute and punish when it is in a position to do so.”
The CHR said that if there were cases of deaths during police operations that showed excessive use of force, it was imperative that the government launch effective and meaningful investigations of these alleged violations.
“The usual reason of ‘nanlaban’ [fought back]does not justify the killings. Denying these allegations without observing due process of law would not yield substantial solution to the issue, but would just cultivate a culture of impunity within the ranks,” the CHR said.
Malacanang defended the PNP for denying the existence of EJKs.
“The PNP’s statement that there is no case of extrajudicial killing under the Duterte Administration is based on the operational guidelines stated Administrative Order (AO) 35,” Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella said in a statement.
Abella said that under AO 35, EJKs were only defined as killings where “the victim was a member of, or affiliated with an organization, to include political, environmental, agrarian, labor, or similar causes; or an advocate of above-named causes; or a media practitioner or person(s) apparently mistaken or identified to be so.”
At the same time, the CHR agreed with the results of the Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey, which showed that majority of Filipinos feared being victims of EJKs. GLEE JALEA