OPPOSITION lawmakers on Thursday sought a congressional investigation into the recent spate of killings of individuals linked to illegal drugs trade as the death toll passed the 100 mark since the election of President Rodrigo Duterte.
The move by Ifugao Rep. Teodoro Baguilat Jr. and newly elected Sen. Leila de Lima, both of the erstwhile ruling Liberal Party, sets the stage for a confrontation with Duterte, who has warned Congress against thwarting his campaign promise to rid the country of crime and illegal drugs in three to six months.
De Lima, who as Justice secretary in the previous administration was critical of Duterte’s crime-fighting methods as Davao City mayor, said there were “telltale signs of summary executions” on some of those killed.
The former human rights lawyer also wondered whether all those killed during the recent anti-drug raids really put up a fight against the arresting officers.
“Drug personalities are getting killed almost every day and many of them are an offshoot of police operations, so we have to look into the legitimacy of the manner, of the method by which these police enforcers are doing their job,” she told reporters.
Baguilat on Thursday filed House Resolution 61 seeking congressional inquiry into the killings, which have reached at least 103 since May 10 based on records of the Philippine National Police (PNP). Duterte was elected President on May 9.
Baguilat noted that 68 suspected drug offenders were killed in police operations from January 1 to June 15. But from June 16 to 20 alone, at least 25 were reported dead.
Since President Duterte’s assumption to the presidency, an additional 23 suspected drug traffickers have been killed, he added.
Data from the PNP Directorate for Investigative and Detective The management, meanwhile, showed that 31 drug suspects were killed between June 27 and July 3, while 860 others were arrested.
“If we don’t stop it and look into its causes, people will take the law into their own hands soon enough, resulting in anarchy. It falls upon Congress, as an instrument of the rule of law, to scrutinize the circumstances behind these killings,” Baguilat said.
De Lima said the investigation would be in aid of legislation, to help senators come up with bills to codify operational procedures of the PNP, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency and other law enforcement agencies.
She asked why no unit of the PNP has moved to investigate the drug-related killings.
“There’s an internal affairs unit but I don’t know how active or pro-active our internal unit or PNP internal affairs office is,” de Lima said.
Senator Panfilo Lacson, who is expected to head the Senate committee on public order and dangerous drugs, however, plans to sit on de Lima’s proposal in case it is referred to his committee, unless there is evidence of wrongdoing by police.
“It will be unfair [to]the police officers. In case it is referred to my committee I won’t call for any investigation unless somebody will come out and present evidence that there was really summary execution,” Lacson said.
The PNP statistics released Thursday showed that most of those killed in drug-related operations were in Central Luzon, while the most number of arrests were in Calabarzon.
Central Luzon accounted for 14 suspects killed, followed by Calabarzon (7), Davao (6), Soccskargen (2), Cebu (1) and Metro Manila (1).
Calabarzon had the most number of drug suspects arrested with 277, followed by Metro Manila (237), Central Luzon (124), Central Visayas (48), Northern Mindanao (44), Soccskargen (32) and Western Mindanao (19).
At least 15 drug suspects were arrested in Mimaropa, while 13 drug suspects were arrested each in Caraga Region and Negros Island. Twelve were arrested in the Ilocos Region.
The rest of the breakdown of drug-related arrests are as follows: Cordillera Autonomous Region (8), Cagayan Valley (7), Eastern Visayas (7) and Western Visayas (4).