MANILA, Philippines — Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano on Monday questioned the Senate justice committee’s intention in holding an inquiry on the rising number of extrajudicial killings and summary executions of alleged drug dealers.
The senator claimed that critics of President Rodrigo Duterte’s anti-drugs campaign are wrongfully branding drug-related casualties as extrajudicial killings.
“Are we [therefore] using the term ‘extrajudicial killings’ loosely to discredit the PNP and Duterte administration? I was hoping that we could educate the people more, para hindi sila ma-mislead na lahat ng patayan [ngayon] ay extrajudicial killings,” Cayetano said in his opening statement during the Senate hearing.
Cayetano cited Administrative Order 35, under the administration of former President Benigno Aquino III, which defines extrajudicial killings.
Under the order, killings that involved common criminals were not classified as extrajudicial killings.
Of the 1,400 people killed during the Aquino administration, only 395 were categorized as extrajudicial killings, Cayetano said. Most killings involving common crimes were identified as “riding-in-tandem” cases.
The senator added that the Senate inquiry on drug-related killings is an attempt to undermine the Duterte administration’s war on drugs.
“[The Filipino] people support the anti-drug war, criminals don’t. Ang mga kriminal at drug pusher ay gumagastos ngayon… sa kahit ano para i-discredit ang administrasyon na ito, para matuloy ang kanilang multi-billion na negosyo,” Cayetano said.
Cayetano noted that there was no increase in the number of killings since Duterte assumed office. He added that crime volume decreased a month after the new president took authority.
Based on data from the Philippine National Police, overall crime volume in the country dropped by 5,522 incidents after the first month of the new administration, the senator said.
“Ngayon po, the respect and fear of the law have been restored. Drug lords and their supporters are on the run. People are beginning to feel safe. [There is a] renewed trust in the government under President Duterte,” the senator said.
Meanwhile, Sen. Leila de Lima stressed that the anti-drugs campaign is being used as an excuse to legitimize murder.
“What is particularly worrisome is that the campaign against drugs seems to be an excuse for some law enforcers and other elements like vigilantes to commit murder with impunity,” De Lima said in her opening statement at the Senate panel hearing on the killings.
De Lima filed the Senate resolution which orders the Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights and Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs to investigate the spate of drug-related killings in the country.
By Patricia Lourdes Viray (philstar.com)