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Acosta denies 'pattern' in killings, then Risa quotes her

Public Attorney's Office chief Persida Rueda Acosta attends the Senate hearing into the deaths during the drug war. Senate PRIB

MANILA, Philippines — Tears were shed as the Senate hearing into the deaths in drug war turned emotional after a senator slammed what is perceived as state sponsored killings following the killings of Kian delos Santos and Carl Arnaiz.

An expressive Public Attorney's Office chief Persida Rueda Acosta came to the defense of Philippine National Police Director General Ronald "Bato" dela Rosa and denied that there is a directive from the president to kill drug suspects.

Acosta decried the impression of opposition senator Risa Hontiveros that the PNP is being used as "killing machine."

"Walang polisiya ang gobyerno na pumatay ng walang awa. Ako mismo ang makakapagpapatotoo na walang utos sa pulis na pumatay na walang kaawa-awa," Acosta said as she mentioned that her office has more than 80,000 detained and living clients apprehended by the PNP. ("There is no government policy to kill those who are helpless. I myself would prove true that the police received no order to kill innocent people.")

READAutopsy: Carl Arnaiz 'unable to fight back' vs Caloocan City cops

"Kawawa naman ang mga pulis na handang ibuwis ang kanilang buhay para sa inang bayan, parang nalalahat na sila. Wala po kaming sinasabing pattern kasi laging nababanggit yung PAO," she added. ("I feel sorry for the police who are ready to sacrifice their lives for the country. We are generalizing them. We are not saying that there is a pattern [in the killings].")

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Prior to her emotional response to Hontiveros, Dela Rosa also wept in telling the senator not to "condition the minds" of the public that they are ordered to kill.

The PAO chief also denied that she noticed the "pattern" in killings following the deaths of Delos Santos and Arnaiz in separate police operations by Caloocan City police.

"Wala pong pronouncement ang PAO na may pattern dito. Wala kaming sinasabing ganon I swear to God. Huwag ho kami i-quote," she continued. ("There is no pronouncement from the PAO that there is a pattern... Don't quote us wrongly.")

While Acosta insisted that she never said that there was a pattern in killings, Hontiveros reminded the PAO chief of her radio interview.

READ: PNP: Carl Arnaiz tested positive for gunpowder nitrates

"Actually pwede kong i-quote, dahil quoted po si Chief Acosta. Sinabi niyo sa dzMM kaugnay ng kaso ni Carl ‘Ang punto dito buhay ito eh bakit ganito ang pattern parang may pagkakahalintulad kay Kian, magkasunod halos ito, oras lang ang pag-itan niyan," Hontiveros told Acosta. ("I could actually quote Chief Acosta. You said told radio dzMM about Carl's case, that 'The point here is there is a life wasted. Why is the pattern like this, similar to Kian's case. It was done one after another.")

Acosta’s office are handling the murder cases of delos Santos and Arnaiz both teenager and believed to be tortured.

Duterte has long been criticized for rhetoric—traditionally taken as policy—seen to encourage killings in his brutal campaign against drugs. In July, for example, he said he is the only president who had been able to order the killing of criminals.

READ: Duterte: Shoot suspects who fight back, make them fight if they don't

The Palace, however, has regularly denied that Duterte has issued such orders, dismissing his remarks as jokes, hyperbole or just expressions of frustration.

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