MANILA, Aug 22 (Mabuhay) – Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano on Monday criticized those branding the more than 1,000 drug-related slays under the Duterte administration as “extrajudicial killings” (EJK).
At the same time, the lawmaker slammed the media for coming up with “kill lists,” which he said highlighted the number of drug-related killings but overlooked the supposed positive effects of the government’s anti-drug campaign.
In a speech during a Senate inquiry on drug-related killings, Cayetano cited Administrative Order 35 under the previous Aquino administration, which he said had a more exclusive definition of EJKs.
“Sa kanila [Aquino administration], ang common criminals, hindi kasama sa extrajudicial killings,” he said, adding that of the 1,400 people killed under the previous term, only 394 were classified as EJKs.
“Pero sa umpisa pa lang ng hearing na ito kung anu-anong numero na ang narinig natin,” he added.
Cayetano said before the Duterte administration, such killings were usually classified in the media as “riding-in-tandem” killings.
“Ngayon, may ginagawa sila at [kung kailan] mas marami ang patay, tinatawag niyong kill list,” he said.
The lawmaker from Taguig said apart from coming up with kill lists, the media should also report on the good effects of the police’s anti-drugs operations, which he said rose to 215 percent compared to the previous administration.
“People now are beginning to feel safe,” said Cayetano.
Cayetano expressed fears that the Senate inquiry would send a backlash to the country’s law enforcement bodies.
“Ang problema, the road to hell is full of good intentions. It is not the intention, it is the effect. Ang pulis, kung lalabas sila pa ang kontrabida ngayon, baka ang iba umatras,” he said.
Before he could finish his last slide, Cayetano was cut by De Lima, who strictly enforced a five-minute rule for the senators’ opening speeches. “Time is up,” De Lima told Cayetano, who then uttered his final statement.
“Ang statement ni Pangulong Duterte at PNP Chief Ronald ‘Bato’ Dela Rosa na nagsasabi, ‘Ayoko ng EJKs… So be fair. Pero sana sa interviews, and kapatid sa media, panay ang report n’yo na gusto nP pangulo at ng PNP ng EJKs,” he said.
In response, De Lima said resource speakers would be asked throughout the hearing to help properly define which among the killings should be classified as EJKs.
Don’t let hearings deter momentum
In his opening speech, Lacson said he understood where the police officials invited to the heraing were coming from as he was also a police officer.
Lacson had served as PNP chief before he was elected senator in 2001.
“I understand their psyche. I know their frustrations over a flawed judicial system with unsympathetic, sometimes corrupt, prosecutors,” he said.
“Kabisado ko rin ang mga palusot at kalokohan ng mga scalawags sa hanay nila. May mga tinanggal na ako sa serbisyo noong chief PNP ako na nasipagbalikan nang wala na ako. At ginamit pa nila para gipitin ako at gipitin din ang mga dati kong tauhan na malalapit sa akin,” he added.
Lacson expressed hopes that the “momentum” of the police’s anti-drug campaign “must not be deterred” by legislative inquiries like the one being headed by De Lima.
Lacson also described how he felt when he had to face the Senate before as a member of the PNP.
“And I can tell you, the feeling was anything but pleasant. Never ako nakaramdam ng good vibes noon. I just hope our resource persons who are members of the police force are not talking to themselves now as I speak, cursing us legislators the way I did then,” the lawmaker said.
For police officers present in this inquiry, honestly I don’t know how this whole exercise of drug-fighting will end. I have no idea what is the end-state of all your efforts. And I want to pick your brain on that later. I can only make a guess.
Lacson admitted not knowing how the Duterte administration’s war on drugs would end up. “Either we have a drug-free PH after 6 months or maybe a longer period; or God forbid, you go bust and worse end up in jail,” he said.
Dela Rosa had reported in a separate Senate hearing last week that 899 killings of drug suspects by unidentified assailants are being probed by the PNP.
He reported that a total of 665 drug suspects have been killed in legitimate police operations as of August 18.
In an earlier report, the PNP said that policemen had visited 309,734 houses as part of its Oplan Tokhang (Katok-Pakiusap) from July 1 to August 14.
It added that a total of 519,480 drug users and 34,763 drug pushers have surrendered under Oplan Tokhang. (MNS)