Government submitting itself to courts on EJKs – Roque

Christina Mendez - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — The administration is not sweeping under the rug the reports of extrajudicial killings allegedly carried out by a police unit in Quezon City, presidential spokesman Harry Roque said yesterday.

He also denied allegations the government is sanctioning the activities of the so-called Davao death squad whose operatives were reportedly involved in the killing of drug offenders in Metro Manila.

Criminal cases filed against the policemen involved have reached the Supreme Court and the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) has not intervened in the matter, Roque said.

“What I do know is there is a writ of amparo issued by the Supreme Court against the police station. So the response is: we are not taking it sitting down,” he said.

The fact that the Supreme Court issued a writ of amparo was proof that the government did not oppose the petition for the issuance of one.

“So question: is government sanctioning the alleged operations of this Davao group? Clearly not, because in that petition government did not oppose it,” Roque added.

“In effect government agreed with the allegations of the petition and that’s why there was a writ of protection issued,” he said.

Roque added that the Philippines continues to abide by its treaty obligation to protect and promote the right to life.

The government has addressed the concerns over extrajudicial killings and it recognizes its obligation “to investigate, punish, prosecute and give the victims adequate domestic legal remedy.”

“The Supreme Court and the OSG did not oppose the writ of amparo which includes the duty to investigate alleged perpetrators of human rights violations,” he said. “That’s a matter of record, there is a decision of the Supreme Court in this regard.

“Government is obligated to investigate, government is obligated to punish the perpetrators,” Roque pointed out.

While a writ of amparo will not require criminal sanctions against the respondents, Roque explained it will nonetheless prompt the respondents to investigate.

“..and the PNP right now is under obligation to investigate and confirm the reports of the petitioners in that writ of amparo,” he said.

Malacañang has repeatedly said it is not tolerating cases of abuses by policemen in relation to the administration’s campaign against illegal drugs.

“Yes, well, that is why if the investigation concludes that the police operation complained about was pursuant to the law, then the President will stand by the policemen,” he said.

“But as in the case of Kian, if it is proven that there was excessive use of force and that the use of force is tantamount to murder, then the President will order their prosecution,” Roque said, referring to Kian delos Santos, who was killed allegedly after trying to fight it out with policemen who were checking him for drug possession. But witnesses disputed that claim, saying the teenager was executed by police.

On Wednesday, Philippine National Police chief Director Ronald dela Rosa said he was standing by the head of a secretive unit behind dozens of killings in the country’s war on drugs, saying officers fired only in self-defense and the death toll reflected the danger and scale of the narcotics problem. Dela Rosa was responding to a Reuters special report that spent four months examining killings by one group of policemen from or near Davao City, the hometown of President Duterte.

Dela Rosa said police Station 6 in Quezon City had Metro Manila’s most serious drug problem and he personally sent squad commander Lito Patay there because he was a “very professional” and “very dedicated” officer capable of dealing with it.

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