Senator Panfilo Lacson wants the government to give compensation to the families and relatives of persons killed unintentionally in the campaign against illegal drugs.
Lacson stressed that innocent victims “deserve more than an apology from the President.”
“Those killed as what he (President) described as collateral damage in the drug war, especially those ‘in slippers’ must be given at the very least some compensation and justice, at the most,” the senator said.
He said the government should at least provide burial assistance to the families of victims and scholarship grants to their children if the victim is the breadwinner.
Lacson was reacting to the apology of President Rodrigo Duterte to victims killed in the crossfire.
He added that unless the government did something about the so-called vigilante killings, the notion that these were either state sanctioned or inspired will continue.
The President earlier admitted that some people, including children, have ended up being “collateral damage” in the anti-illegal drug campaign and that the killings were unintentional.
Lacson reiterated his call on the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the government to form a composite team of seasoned investigators and intelligence operatives to deal with at least 4,000 vigilante killings or what the police refers to as deaths under investigation (DUI’s) and go after the perpetrators.
The chairman of the Senate committee on public order and dangerous drugs said the rise in unexplained killings does not speak well of the peace and order efforts of the PNP.
“Concrete actions must be done against vigilante killings otherwise, they cannot expect to disabuse the thinking that most of those killings were either state inspired or at worst, state sanctioned or sponsored,” the senator said.
The Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) earlier made the same appeal.
Dante Jimenez, founding chairman of the VACC, pushed for the creation of a special task force that would handle the investigation and prosecution of cases involving the “collateral damage” in the government’s bloody war against drugs.
He also called on the Supreme Court to create special courts that will hear cases involving unintentional killings to ensure that justice will be served to the victims.
But Representatives Teddy Baguilat of Ifugao and Edgar Erice of Caloocan believe that no compensation will be enough for the innocent caught in the drug war.
“That’s absurd; a skewed sense of justice. If the innocent get killed in a police operation, justice is served by subjecting law enforcers to appropriate charges,” Baguilat said in a text message.
“If they’re victims of vigilante killings, then the perpetrators of these heinous crimes should be caught and brought to justice. No amount of compensation can justify collateral damage particularly killings of the innocent in a campaign against crime,” he added.
Erice argued that it would be hard to tell who are the collateral damage because killings have been so rampant.
“There is nothing worse than what is happening now. It would be very hard to determine who were really the collateral damage, especially those murders perpetrated by vigilantes,” Erice said.
Party-list Reps. Rodel Batocabe of Ako Bicol and Sherwin Tugna of Citizens’ Battle Against Corruption however said providing compensation is one step to justice.
“I propose the creation of a special commission to look into the collateral damage caused by the drug war which will initiate prosecution of those criminally responsible, including indemnifying victims,” Batocabe said.
“I believe that this [compensation]is a good proposal, under the premise that the main targets indeed engaged in a gunfight. Under the law, civil liability arises from a mistake in allegedly accidentally hitting innocent collateral victims on the war on drugs. There should be monetary compensation,” Tugna said.