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Palace welcomes petition asking SC to probe EJKs

The petition, filed by a group of lawyers last Sept. 22, urged the high court to order the heads of the Philippine National Police (PNP), Commission on Human Rights and the Department of Justice (DOJ) to look into the cases of alleged extrajudicial killings (EJKs) and arbitrary detention whether or not related to the drug war. File

MANILA, Philippines — The executive branch is ready to answer the petition asking the Supreme Court (SC) to compel state agencies to probe killings tied with the Duterte administration’s crackdown on illegal drugs, Malacañang said yesterday. 

The petition, filed by a group of lawyers last Sept. 22, urged the high court to order the heads of the Philippine National Police (PNP), Commission on Human Rights and the Department of Justice (DOJ) to look into the cases of alleged extrajudicial killings (EJKs) and arbitrary detention whether or not related to the drug war. 

The petitioners also want the agencies to release information detailing the number of summary executions and the measures taken to investigate the killings and prosecute perpetrators. 

Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said concerned agencies like the DOJ and the police welcome the petition and are prepared to respond to it. 

“Authorities follow protocols and procedures during the conduct of police operations. Drug-related killings form part of cases under investigation by the police, alongside murder and homicide cases,” Abella said.  

Abella said state agencies are disclosing information about the investigations but are withholding details that may compromise law enforcement operations. 

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“The public is given access to the results of the investigation; however, specific details on ongoing investigations are only released when these details will not compromise the investigation, follow-up operations and other related activities,” he added. 

More than 6,000 deaths are being investigated, close to 1,400 of them drug related, according to latest police data. 

Duterte has denied endorsing EJKs, saying he is ready to prosecute and “slaughter” policemen involved in crimes. He also justified the brutal crackdown on illegal drugs, saying it is necessary to protect the next generation. 

Duterte won’t blame China for drugs

As this developed, Duterte refused to blame the Chinese government for the smuggling of illegal drugs despite the interception of P6.4 billion worth of shabu from China.

Duterte said two syndicates – namely the 14K based in Hong Kong and Bamboo Triad based in Taiwan – are taking charge of the drug trade in the region. 

“The drug trade is being operated by the 14K, Bamboo Triad. They have taken over. They are cooking the shabu on the high seas. They will then throw it in Region 1 (Ilocos). There are many empty bins with Chinese characters. It’s actually Taiwan,” the President said during the 120th anniversary of the justice department in Pasay City last Tuesday.  

“I cannot blame the Chinese government or the people because we were doing it here before,” he added. 

Duterte said China, just like the Philippines, is experiencing troubles because of the drug menace.

“Every country has gangsters… Forty percent of the barangays in the Philippines are contaminated,” the President said.

Duterte said the Philippines has become a transshipment point of illegal drugs bound for the United States. 

“Generally, I would say that America is the richest market. I don’t know why. (The market here) is small. There, even entertainment celebrities (are into drugs),” the President said. 

“If America believes it, fine. If not, fine. I already told them,” he added. 

Duterte said he does not mind if his critics make an issue of alleged EJKs every day.  

“God d*** i*… So araw-araw ito, hindi ito mahinto, nakikita ko kasi, sinasakyan talaga (It does not stop. Every day they are exploiting it: EJK, EJK, EJK. So be it. Make it the issue all throughout my term,” the President said. 

“I am not available anymore for reelection. So why should I be intimidated by the (Commission on) Human Rights?” he added. 

The commission has been critical of the deaths attributed to the administration’s anti-drug war.

Senate condemns EJKs

As this developed, the Senate majority also came out with its own resolution yesterday condemning in the strongest sense EJKs in the country and calling on the government to exert and exhaust all efforts to stop and resolve them.

This came after seven members of the majority were criticized for not being signatories to Senate Resolution 516, which was spearheaded by the minority and signed by 16 out of 23 senators.

Resolution 516 urged the Duterte government to “undertake the necessary steps to stop the spate of killings, especially of our children.” 

The seven senators – Manny Pacquiao, Richard Gordon, Tito Sotto, Cynthia Villar, Miguel Zubiri and Gregorio Honasan along with Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III – then filed Resolution 518 signed by 17 senators, all belonging to the majority bloc.

The senators belonging to the minority bloc were excluded from the resolution.

“The Senate is against the violent death of every Filipino, and will seek justice for its victims,” Pimentel said.

The resolution cited data from the Philippine Information Agency, which reported that as of June 16 of this year, there are already 12,833 homicide cases, 2,098 of which are drug-related, 2,535 are non-drug related and 8,200 still under investigation.

The resolution named Kian Loyd delos Santos, Carl Arnaiz and Reynaldo de Guzman as cases of EJKs that alarmed the nation and sparked public outrage.

In addition, the cases of Leo Sarmiento, Raymart Siapo and Roman Manaois were mentioned in the resolution. The senators, through the resolution, called on the PNP and other law enforcement agencies to implement the law and conduct operations in accordance with the Constitution and existing laws.

Pimentel said the “Philippines is a civilized democratic society that will not tolerate unresolved killings. The police must do its job and solve these crimes.”

“Let it be known that the Senate, as the bastion of democracy, will not surrender its duty to protect and defend the human rights of every Filipino,” Pimentel said.

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