SENATOR Panfilo Lacson on Friday said he saw no reason to conclude or even suspect that extrajudicial “killings happening in the country were state-sponsored,” but maintained that investigations must continue.
Lacson said the Senate inquiry into the spate of extrajudicial killings of drug suspects, or what the police call “deaths under investigation,” must continue because of the clamor for it in the country and abroad.
“Killings are really happening and we really have to find out if these were extrajudicial or not,” Lacson said in a radio interview.
There is also a need to find out if the killings were state-sponsored, although Lacson said there was no reason to conclude that such was the case.
In fact, the Philippine National Police (PNP) is investigating vigilante killings and has so far solved 197 cases out of the 1,971 deaths.
Lacson, citing PNP records, said a total of 311 cases of killings by unknown assailants have been filed and 197 of these cases have been solved, meaning suspects were arrested.
Police have cleared 114 cases, in which the PNP had filed the complaint but the suspects were at large.
“This would translate to about 15.8-percent solution efficiency,” said Lacson who was PNP chief during the term of President Joseph Estrada.
Lacson said the solution efficiency numbers were good because it showed that the PNP was doing something about vigilante killings despite its all-out war against illegal drugs.
“So for me at this point I’m not convinced that the state is allowing these killings perpetuated by [motorcycle-riding men] or vigilantes,” he added.
The senator also noted that while there was a 12-percent spike in murder and homicide incidents nationwide, there was also a 45-percent drop in the number of index crimes like robbery, theft, physical injury and crimes against persons and property.
The Senate justice committee will resume its probe into alleged summary killings in the government’s anti-drug war on September 28.
It has invited alleged members of the “Davao Death Squad” named by confessed hit man Edgar Matobato during the previous hearing on Thursday.
Senator Leila de Lima, who was stripped of the justice committee chairmanship for bringing out Matobato to testify that President Rodrigo Duterte was behind summary executions in Davao City, argues that the pattern of the Davao Death Squad killings from 1988 to 2013 is being repeated on a national scale.
Lacson on Friday also maintained that he found the testimony of Matobato to be inconsistent, and lauded Sen. Emmanuel “Manny” Pacquiao for grilling the witness.
“He exposed a lying witness — one who can’t remember the details of his previous testimony,” Lacson said.
He noted how Matobato would noticeably look toward the direction of Senators de Lima and Antonio Trillanes 4th when cross-examined.