Contrary to a claim of the Philippine National Police that there are no extrajudicial killings under the Duterte administration, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) on Sunday pointed to a recent Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey that showed otherwise, based on the Filipinos’ perception of such killings under the government’s war on drugs.
The CHR said not only did the SWS survey show majority of the Filipinos fearing of becoming victims of extrajudicial killings, it also showed they also believe that “poor suspects are killed, while rich and powerful ones are spared.”
It added that such killings “encompass 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,” as defined by former United Nations Special Rapporteur Philip Alston.
“Limiting the [PNP’s] definition of EJKs [extrajudicial killings]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.
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.”
Malacañang has defended the PNP against criticism arising from the police organization’s recent report that denied EJKs.
“The PNP’s statement that there is no case of extrajudicial killing under the Duterte administration is based on the operational guidelines stated by Administrative Order [AO] 35,” Palace spokesman Ernesto Abella said in a statement.
But the CHR said if there are cases of deaths during police operations that exhibit excessive use of force, it is imperative that the State launch effective and meaningful investigations of these alleged violations.
“The usual reason of ‘nanlaban’ [suspects putting up a fight]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 commission added.
A previous SWS survey also showed that 63 percent of Filipinos believe that drug suspects who were caught during the police’s anti-drug operations did not resist arrest but were still killed despite surrendering to the authorities.
The CHR, however, welcomed the PNP’s commitment to clean up its ranks and file charges against rogue cops.