MALACANANG maintained that there were no cases of extrajudicial killings during the Duterte administration despite the 3,800 suspects reported killed in its campaign against illegal drugs.
Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said the PNP’s position was in accordance with the definition of “extrajudicial killing” as provided under Administrative Order (AO) 35 dated April 2013.
AO 35 states that extrajudicial killings (EJKs) are 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.”
Abella said that AO 35 also defined extrajudicial killings as cases wherein “the victim was targeted and killed because of the actual or perceived membership, advocacy, or profession; or the person/s responsible for the killing is a state agent or non-state agent; and the method and circumstances of attack reveal a deliberate intent to kill.”
“The PNP’s statement that there is no case of extrajudicial killing under the Duterte Administration is based on the operational guidelines of Administrative Order No. 35. AO 35 has not been repealed or revoked; thus, the definition of extrajudicial killings remains the same,” Abella said in a statement.
In an interview with Al-Jazeera over the weekend, Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Cayetano claimed that all the 3,800 people killed in the police’s anti-drug operations were drug dealers.
Journalist Mehdi Hasan, who interviewed Cayetano, rebuffed the country’s top diplomat, asking how Cayetano can be so sure of his pronouncement when the 3,800 people who were killed were shot on sight and without any of them facing charges or standing trial.
Abella said, however, that these deaths were being addressed.
“We need to emphasize that one death is one too many. Regardless of this definition, these deaths are being addressed to ensure the accountability of perpetrators, even as it calls upon witnesses and individuals who can provide valuable evidence that will lead to speedy resolution of cases,” Abella added.
Based on the accounts of human rights groups, at least 13,000 suspected drug suspects died in the past year.
Controversial among these deaths was that of Kian de los Santos, 17, whom family and friends claimed was neither a drug user nor dealer.