AI presses UN investigation on ‘rampant’ slays in PH drug war | Malaya Business Insight

Reference:
Hachero, A. (2019, July 09). AI presses UN investigation on ‘rampant’ slays in PH drug war. Malaya Business Insight. Retrieved July 09, 2019 from https://www.malaya.com.ph/business-news/news/ai-presses-un-investigation-%E2%80%98rampant%E2%80%99-slays-ph-drug-war

AI presses UN investigation on ‘rampant’ slays in PH drug war
By ASHZEL HACHERO – July 09, 2019

AMNESTY International is pressing the United Nations Human Rights Council to open an investigation into the “perilous normalization” of extrajudicial executions and police abuses in the Philippine government’s bloody war against illegal drugs.

In a report titled “They Just Kill” released on Monday, Amnesty pointed out how impunity and unlawful killings have been going on unabated in the Philippines, three years into a war on drugs, with a pattern of executions under the guise of police sting operations and a state unwilling to investigate.

Amnesty said authorities have used “deliberate obfuscation and misinformation” to make it impossible to monitor the full extent of killings, which overwhelmingly targeted poor and marginalized communities lacking the means or support to mount legal challenges against police.

The report, compiled in April, focused on Bulacan province as the new epicenter of the crackdown. Amnesty researchers found out that in Bulacan alone, there were 27 killings in 20 incidents, 18 of which were official police operations.

Amnesty urged the United Nations Human Rights Council to approve a resolution calling for an investigation into the Philippines. A vote on the resolution by the 47-member council is expected later this week.

The Amnesty report said the exact number of dead in President Duterte’s war on drugs was impossible to independently verify. Citing records showing that thousands have been killed, it noted police claims that about 6,600 of those who died during operations were allegedly armed and engaged law enforcers in gun battles.

In three-quarters of incidents, those killed were on “watch lists” of people in communities with suspected use or involvement in drugs, Amnesty found.

It viewed those lists as unreliable and illegitimate “seeming to guide decisions about whom the police are targeting for arrest, or in some cases, to kill”.

Based on witnesses and other information, the Amnesty report concluded half were extrajudicial killings. It said the other incidents pointed broadly to previous patterns of executions, but it could not obtain sufficient evidence and information to be certain.

The police narrative that undercover officers posing as drug buyers had killed only in self defense “doesn’t meet the feeblest standards of credibility,” Amnesty added.

Chief Presidential Legal Counsel and concurrent presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said Amnesty’s basis for calling for an international investigation was wrong because there were no such illegal killings.

“They are saying that there have been murders in this country as if all those who were killed in police operations have been intentionally slaughtered or killed. As we have repeatedly said, these are the result of legitimate police operations,” Panelo said during a regular news briefing.

Panelo said Amnesty International should have just filed appropriate complaints in connection with the alleged extra judicial killings linked to the PH war on drugs instead of “politicizing” the issue.

“They should have filed a case against the policemen and we would have welcomed it. As the President says, we will not tolerate any police abuse because there will always be hell to pay for them,” he said.

Panelo said the problem with Amnesty International was that it was “politicizing the so-called extrajudicial killings of this country so there is bias, there is prejudice.”

“What’s important here is you should file a case. You cannot be politicizing, running to the media and making report without facts, without a formal complaint. Otherwise, those are mere allegations and designed to besmirch the reputation of this administration,” Panelo said.

He said an example of the international group’s bias was its insistence that there were 27,000 deaths attributed to the anti-legal drugs campaign which he was “not true”.

The Philippines government, last month told the United Nations that drug-related deaths in the last three years of the Duterte administration stood at 5,489 and not 27,000 as what media reports have been citing.

“We have been asking them to show us. You give us the figures then show us the facts and the circumstances surrounding these 27,000 deaths. Who are these people? Under what circumstances where they have been murdered or killed? But they cannot present, simply because they accept false reports and false narratives coming from those who are against this administration,” Panelo said.

NO NEED FOR OUTSIDE PROBE

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said the Department of Justice and the National Bureau of Investigation are ready to conduct a probe on the Amnesty findings and prosecute all those who will be found to have violated the laws.
“With all due respect, our government need not be told by anyone, including the UN or any of its agencies, to stop the so-called extrajudicial executions in our war against drugs because it has never been the policy of the government to tolerate the killing of illegal drug suspects who submit themselves peacefully to our law enforcement officers,” Guevarra said.

He added that “there is no need for Amnesty International to urge the Philippines to investigate possible violations of law by law enforcement agents in the government’s drug war. The DOJ and the NBI are ready, willing to investigate and prosecute law enforcement agents upon proper complaint.”

Guevarra, however, said the DOJ will only entertain complaints filed by people with personal knowledge of wrongdoings committed.

“Until witnesses comes forward and testify, however, presumption of regularity in the performance of official duty by our law enforcement officers shall be respected,” he added.

PNP spokesman Col. Bernard Banac said a UN investigation was unnecessary because the country’s criminal justice system is functioning efficiently.

“The Philippines has a fully functional criminal justice system that has complete jurisdiction over such domestic legal questions that need to be resolved through a formal judicial process,” Banac said, adding: “At best, we can only express opinion that any foreign body that will conduct an investigation here of local crime incidents may be unnecessary.”

PNP chief Gen. Oscar Albayalde said the supposed police killings and abuses were mere allegations.

“Those are allegations that have never, never been proven,” said Albayalde, reiterating that the police organization fully respects human rights, as enshrined in the Constitution.
– With Reuters and Victor Reyes

Category: National | Malaya Business Insight

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