Sen. Leila De Lima urged the Senate to investigate into the "suspicious circumstances" surrounding a bloody police raid in Tondo. The STAR/Joven Cagande, File

De Lima urges Senate to investigate bloody Tondo drug raid
Audrey Morallo (philstar.com) - December 15, 2017 - 10:58am

MANILA, Philippines — Sen. Leila De Lima on Friday urged the Senate to investigate into the "suspicious circumstances" behind a bloody police raid in Tondo, which is an alleged case of summary execution disguised as a legitimate law enforcement operation.

De Lima filed Senate Resolution 566 to direct the appropriate Senate panel to probe into a report by wire agency Reuters showing a video footage contradicting a claims of cops that an anti-drugs operation in Tondo, Manila was a legitimate police activity.

“There is an imperative need to ensure that killings are seriously investigated, prosecuted and punished, especially by ensuring that victims, witnesses and victims’ families are not discouraged from coming forward,” De Lima, one of the fiercest critics of President Rodrigo Duterte and his brutal campaign against illegal drugs, said.

“It is also important that an investigation by an independent body is immediately and automatically launched every time there are serious injuries and casualties resulting from law enforcement operations, which body will automatically preserve the evidence, including eyewitness testimonies,” she added.

READ:  Palace 'authenticating' video in Reuters report on drug war

In a report late last month, Reuters obtained a security camera video casting doubts on police killings in the bloody war on drugs.

One footage showed police, led by officer Santiago Pascual, taking at least 25 minutes before hauling away the men they had shot. The men did not show any sign of life and were being carried away by their arms and legs. They were loaded into makeshift bicycle vehicles to be brought to hospitals.

The story also undermined police claims that the suspects were killed in self-defense after they offered violent resistance. According to the report, eyewitness accounts indicated that the three men were "executed" in Barangay 19 in Tondo.

The video also showed the victims falling to the ground before Pascual turned the camera away.

READ:  Manila police to probe operation caught on video

“It’s disturbing that the same Station Commander, as reported, even had the temerity to go so far as defending the act of tampering with surveillance cameras as being done for a ‘valid security reason’ and to ensure the operation wasn’t compromised, which raises more questions about, if not outrightly invalidating, the claimed legitimacy of the operations,” De Lima, who is detained on drug charges she claimed were concocted, said.

The senator said that it was disturbing that witnesses and the families of the victims were being discouraged from filing charges and being told that it was useless to pursue a case because they would be fighting the government and the police were just following orders.

She also urged senators to push the Philippine National Police to condemn and censure the acts of Santiago who tried to conceal the killing by allegedly tampering with evidence.

READ: Roque: Duterte not satisfied with PDEA handling drug war

De Lima also stressed that need to discourage law enforcers from immediately dismissing eyewitness testimonies on supposed abuses by government authorities.

“This is to prevent a chilling effect on those who have information about such abuses,” she said.

She stressed the need for the government to implement stronger measures that would ensure that cops would respect the human rights of suspects.

"There is a need for measure ensuring that operations are planned in such a way to prevent casualties as far as possible with use of deadly force employed as a last, not as the first or only resort," she said.

The Senate, dominated by the president's allies, issued a rare rebuke of police in August following a string killings of teenagers who supposedly committed crimes and resisted arrests violently.

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