Malacañang has affirmed a claim of the Philippine National Police that there are no extrajudicial killings under the Duterte administration even if at least 3,800 people were killed in the PNP’s anti-drug operations.
Its spokesman Ernesto Abella over the weekend said the PNP’s claim was consistent with the definition of extrajudicial killings under Administrative Order (AO) 35 of April 2013.
Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon on Sunday disputed this claim, saying in a radio interview over dzBB, “Ginagago tayo nitong mga pulis, nitong spokesman na ito. Kala ba nila naniniwala ang taumbayan [We are being fooled by these policemen, this spokesman of theirs. Do they really believe that the people will believe them]?”
Drilon was referring to PNP spokesman and Chief Supt. Dionardo Carlo who on Friday said there has been no case of extrajudicial killing under the Duterte administration.
Under AO 35, extra-judicial killings 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 AO 35 also states that extrajudicial killings are cases wherein “the victim was targeted and killed because of [his]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 35. AO 35 has not been repealed or revoked; thus, the definition of extrajudicial killings remains the same,” he added in a statement.
In an interview with al-Jazeera over the weekend, Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano also claimed that the 3,800 people who were killed in the police’s anti-drug operations are drug dealers.
Al-Jazeera and British journalist Mehdi Hasan, who was interviewing Cayetano, rebuffed the country’s top diplomat, saying the 3,800 people who were killed were shot on sight without any of them facing charges or trial.
Abella conceded that the war on drugs has resulted in deaths, which he said are 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,” according to Abella.
Based on accounts of human rights groups, at least 7,000 to 13,000 suspected drug suspects had died in the past year amid the government’s brutal war on drugs
These deaths include those of 54 children and three teenagers–Kian de los Santos, Carl Arnaiz and Reynaldo de los Santos–who died last August.
The teenaged boys were all allegedly killed in anti-drug operations conducted by the Caloocan City police.
Drilon, in taking to task the PNP spokesman, said Carlo’s statements reminded him of Adolf Hitler’s propagandist Joseph Goebbels, who had said that if one keeps on repeating a lie, people will eventually come to believe it.
Goebbels served as minister of propaganda for the German Third Reich under Adolf Hitler.
Drilon said the PNP and other propagandists “would keep spreading misinformation and lies in the hope that people would eventually accept them as facts.”
He cited the deaths of de los Santos and Arnaiz as clear cases of extra-judicial killings.
Another minorty senator, Paolo Benigno Aquino 4th, also dismissed the PNP claim and urged the PNP to focus instead on investigating the cases.
He said the government should not hide behind the definition of extrajudicial killings, adding that even granting that the cases were not considered as such they were murders and authorities should investigate them.
Analyst Ramon Casiple said the statement of the PNP only raised suspicion about extrajudicial killings.
Casiple, executive director of the Institute for Political and Electoral Reform, said the government should use the international definition of extrajudicial killing–killing done by a state agent.
“The Philippine government cannot make [its]own definition. Hiding [information]on PNP cases only raises suspicion [about extrajudicial killings],” he said.
WITH REPORT FROM JEFFERSON ANTIPORDA