THE head of the Philippine National Police (PNP) on Thursday dared Amnesty International to file charges before the Ombudsman and substantiate claims police officers were paid to kill drug suspects.
Malacañang said the government would look into the report of the London-based human rights group, but insisted the PNP has no official policy allowing police and hired assassins to kill drug suspects.
PNP Chief Ronald de la Rosa claimed the report, in which an unnamed police officer admitted that anti-drug operatives were paid as much as P15,000 for every drug suspect killed, could be another demolition job against the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte.
The police force has no money to pay hired killers, he pointed out.
“Bring that person out in the open. File a complaint. Bring that person to the Ombudsman to clear things up,” de la Rosa said.
PNP spokesman Sr. Supt. Dionardo Carlos said: “We take strong exception to opinions raised in the latest report of Amnesty International which claims that police plant evidence, take under-the-table cash, fabricate reports, and paid killers on police payroll.”
Carlos said 4,744 murders under investigation have been incorrectly referred to by local and foreign observers as “extrajudicial killings.” But 3,459 have been determined to be non-drug-related incidents, he said.
Carlos said 662 cases were motivated by personal grudge, 15 were related to property disputes, 16 were crimes of passion, 10 were brought about by “rido” or family feuds, 11 were work-related and two involved atrocities committed by “threat groups.”
There were 1,285 incidents that had something to do with the victim’s association with drug activities, he said.
“We have made significant breakthrough in the investigation of these murders with the arrest of 694 suspects and the identification of 467 others who are believed responsible in 1,212 reported deaths. Criminal charges have been filed before the Courts,” he added.
‘Coal to Newcastle’
Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said an internal investigating body in the PNP will conduct the probe, but said the human rights watchdog should be cautious in making claims because they might cast a negative image on the police force.
“When we referred to the PNP, there was no official policy regarding that…The government is pursuing internal cleansing, internal investigation. So whatever they say is simply [carrying]coal to Newcastle,” Abella said, using an expression that refers to a pointless or superfluous activity.
In its report released on Wednesday, Amnesty International said its investigation into Duterte’s war on drugs found “systematic, planned and organized” killings by authorities and could constitute crimes against humanity.
Most deaths appeared to be extrajudicial killings, with police accounts of shootouts and deaths during operations “startlingly similar” and often far different from witness testimonies.
Abella said “criminal cops are not government.”
“Their illegal acts do not represent the police institution whose duty is to ensure the protection and security of civilians,” Abella said.
Dubbed as one of the most corrupt institutions in the country, the PNP has been hounded by a series of controversies following the death of South Korean businessman Jee Ick Joo inside Camp Crame, the PNP’s headquarters in Quezon City.
Police have been accused of using the government’s war on drugs as a cover to commit murder, extortion, and robbery.
Asked why the death of around 7, 000 suspected drug offenders did not merit the suspension of the anti-drug campaign, Abella said: “They did not happen within the camp, right?”
“The unique situation regarding that [South Korean’s] death merits attention,” the Palace official said.