Bato: More killings by vigilantes than cops

Cecille Suerte Felipe - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — Since President Duterte assumed office last June 30, the number of killings perpetrated by vigilantes or members of drug syndicates has overtaken the deaths from legitimate police operations by a significant margin.

Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa told the Senate committee on public order and dangerous drugs in a hearing yesterday that the alleged vigilante killings – or what they officially call “found dead body under investigation” – have reached 899 since June 30.

Dela Rosa explained that these represent those found floating in bodies of water or lying on roadsides or other locations, the perpetrators of which were unidentified.

He refused to classify these as purely vigilante killings because he suspects that many of these murders were perpetrated by members of drug syndicates, who are wiping each other out.

In the case of killings that occur in legitimate police anti-illegal drug operations, Dela Rosa said that there were 667 deaths so far.

“If we attribute all of these 899 dead under investigation to vigilantes, compared to 667 killed attributed to legitimate police operations, then the vigilantes or syndicates are more efficient at killing than the police,” Dela Rosa said.

The outspoken Dela Rosa clarified that he does not condone vigilante killings, which he found to be an insult to the PNP as an institution.

He said that the large number of vigilante killings is a matter of concern and that this affects his conscience because the PNP is supposed to ensure peace and order in the entire country.

“They are killing people without any consequences. It makes us appear to be ineffective. I abhor vigilantes. I really hate them,” Dela Rosa said.

Asked by Sen. Grace Poe if all of these killings are unresolved, Dela Rosa pointed out that 22 cases have been filed so far, all in Metro Manila.

Sen. Panfilo Lacson, chairman of the committee on public order and dangerous drugs, reiterated his call for the PNP leadership to resolve the cases of vigilante or syndicate killings because these are all classified as murders.

“These vigilante killings must be solved because these are out and out. What else can you call these but murder cases,” Lacson said.

Sen. Leila de Lima, who has been critical of the anti-illegal drug campaign of the Duterte administration because of the unmitigated killings, confronted Dela Rosa about reports that the previous Aquino administration was being blamed for the proliferation of illegal drugs in the country.

De Lima said that she felt the need to raise the issue because she was part of the previous administration as its justice secretary.

Dela Rosa denied that the previous administration was being blamed for the drug menace.

He explained that law enforcement elements are now just more motivated to go after drug pushers because the current president is determined to put an end to the drug menace.

De Lima emphasized that the various agencies involved in the anti-illegal drug campaign were able to achieve a lot in the previous administration.

She said that the PNP would have been able to see this had it bothered to check the data held by these agencies. 

Dela Rosa admitted that he never checked the data from those agencies because he was more concerned with the problem at hand rather than what transpired in the past.

He said that there is a need to take a closer look at the source of drugs in the country, the evidence of which he said all points to China.

“Most of these originate from them (China). So far we have not uncovered anything that did not originate from them… whether it’s finished product or raw materials,” Dela Rosa said.

He advised the President to raise the issue with either the Chinese president or his ambassador.

“He should be frank with the president of China. What is the real score? He has said it before, ‘I have to ask why they always originate from China,’” Dela Rosa said.

He is also worried that the number of drug pushers and users that have surrendered so far might have reached its “plateau” after 50 days of the Duterte administration.

The drug pushers and users that yielded have reached almost 600,000.

“We are worried for how many weeks it had reached a plateau to almost 600,000. There was no addition, maybe the others are in a wait and see situation,” he added. —with  Marvin Sy

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