THE Philippine National Police (PNP) should look into the claims of a retired intelligence officer and an active police official that police personnel were paid to kill suspected drug dealers, senators said on Wednesday.
Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian said the PNP leadership should not dismiss the allegations. He also urged the unnamed individuals who made the expose’ to present concrete evidence to support their claims.
Gatchalian was referring to the report of Reuters on the alleged involvement of the PNP in extrajudicial killing of drug suspects.
The two informants who requested anonymity claimed that many of the extrajudicial killings were carried out by policemen, not by vigilante groups. They also claimed that the police planted evidence to make it appear that the operation was legal.
“While the allegations lack documentary evidence, these cannot simply be swept under the rug with a blanket denial,” Gatchalian said.
“The PNP leadership should take drastic measures to verify the allegations, and to hold liable erring policemen, no matter their positions in the hierarchy,” he added.
He challenged PNP chief Ronald de la Rosa to unmask the truth and punish police personnel who have broken their vow to protect the Filipino people.
Gatchalian however stressed that the informants should back up their claim so that these will not be regarded as propaganda.
Sen. Panfilo Lacson shared the same view.
“Unless Reuters identifies the two police officers who should show convincing proof of their accusations against the PNP, I will describe that report as gossip, plain and simple,” Lacson said.
Senator Grace Poe however said that the report merely confirms the suspicion of many that policemen are involved in extrajudicial killings.
The only thing that is not clear is the actual number of “police-managed” killing of drug suspects, she said.
“This has been established in the premeditated murder of Mayor (Rolando) Espinosa by police officers inside a provincial jail, among other highly publicized cases of police rubout,” she added.
Poe said the PNP has to stop this practice and investigate and prosecute those involved in extrajudicial killings.
“Truth or mere perception, either way, the police institution will definitely be destroyed if this persists,” Poe said.
Professor Ramon Casiple of the Institute for Political and Electoral Reforms (IPER) agreed that the PNP has an image problem because of its failure to go after erring police officers and because of the public perception that police personnel are involved in corruption, common crimes and extrajudicial killings.
A ranking police official however dismissed the allegations as “rehashed.”
“Nothing new. They are recycled and rehashed issues. Obviously, these were part of the concerted effort of anti-government forces who want President Duterte down,” the PNP officer who asked not to be identified said.
In a news conference on Wednesday, Senior Supt. Dionardo Carlos, PNP spokesman, insisted that the PNP has no budget to fund extrajudicial killings.
“The amount is rather steep and clearly at the PNP we don’t have much funds,” he said, referring to the claim that the police are paid P20,000 to P50, 000 to kill drug suspects and criminals.
“We will never do that. Besides having no budget for that, it is illegal and against the law. We have been struggling for funds and we have no funds allotted for such. The figure itself, in our view is very unrealistic,” Carlos said.
On February 1, 2017, Amnesty International claimed to have spoken to a police officer who is a member of an anti-illegal drugs unit in Metro Manila.
The officer described how the police were paid per “encounter.”
“The amount ranges from P8,000 ($161) to P15,000 ($302)… That amount is per head. So if the operation is against four people, that’s P32,000 ($644)… We’re paid in cash, secretly, by headquarters…There’s no incentive for arresting. We’re not paid anything. It never happens that there’s a shootout and no one is killed,” the police officer said.
Two paid killers also told Amnesty International they took orders from a police officer who gave them P5,000 ($100) for each drug user killed and P10,000 to P15,000 ($200 to $300) for each “drug pusher” killed.