• VACC calls for task force on ‘collateral’ drug deaths

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    ANTI-crime advocates on Friday called on Malacañang to form a special task force to investigate and handle cases involving “collateral” killings in the government’s bloody war against drugs, fearing the deaths would reach “thousands.”

    Dante Jimenez, founding chairman of the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC), made the call following the admission of President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday that some people, including children, have ended up being “collateral damage” of the anti-drug war.

    The President on Thursday apologized for the innocent people who were caught in crossfire, saying the killings were unintentional.

    “Now that the president admitted that there is collateral damage, he should now have a special task force to focus on these collateral victims in this drug war,” Jimenez told The Manila Times in an interview.

    Jimenez, who visited the wakes of four such victims Friday, emphasized the need for a special task force that would focus on the cases, to speed up the investigation and prosecution of suspects.

    INNOCENT VICTIM Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption founding chairman Dante Jimenez (second from left) talks to the family of Angelito Soriano, 16, one of four minors killed by unidentified gunmen in Caloocan City on Wednesday. PHOTO BY RUY L. MARTINEZ

    INNOCENT VICTIM Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption founding chairman Dante Jimenez (second from left) talks to the family of Angelito Soriano, 16, one of four minors killed by unidentified gunmen in Caloocan City on Wednesday. PHOTO BY RUY L. MARTINEZ

    He pointed out that the death of innocent victims in the government’s anti-drug campaign was the reason for the public’s concern that they might be killed next.

    A recent survey conducted by the Social Weather Stations (SWS) showed that eight out of 10 Filipinos were worried they might become victims of extrajudicial killings (EJK) amid the administration’s anti-drug campaign.

    Although majority of respondents believed in the seriousness of the government in addressing EJKs, many feared that either they or a member of their family would be killed.

    Jimenez also called on the Supreme Court to form special courts to handle the cases involving unintentional killings.

    “We fear that thousands will be collateral damage in this war on drugs and we don’t want these incidents to be left unresolved,” Jimenez added.

    Congress, he said, should immediately pass a law restoring the death penalty for heinous crimes such as murder, rape with homicide, kidnapping with homicide, car theft with homicide, and the manufacture, sale and distribution of illegal drugs.

    VACC also wants the death penalty meted on those found guilty of plunder, and the threshold amount for the offense lowered to P10 million from P50 million.

    “These three branches of government must put their acts together because this is not only the problem of the Executive, and they must do it fast in order to maintain the people’s trust in government,” Jimenez said.

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