HRW: Promotion of police officers sacked after Kian slay insult drug war victims

Gaea Katreena Cabico - Philstar.com
HRW: Promotion of police officers sacked after Kian slay insult drug war victims
In this Dec. 8, 2016 photo, people and a policeman looking at the body of a woman, later identified by her husband as that of Nora Acielo, still clutching the school bag of her child, are reflected in a pool of water after she was shot by still unidentified men while walking with her two children to school at a poor neighborhood in Manila, Philippines.
AP / Bullit Marquez

MANILA, Philippines — Human Rights Watch slammed the promotions of senior police officers who, it said, supervised units implicated in scores of killings linked to the government’s ferocious war on drugs.

HRW said the promotions of Senior Supt. Chito Bersaluna—sacked police chief of Caloocan City—as Bulacan province’s top cop and Chief Supt. Roberto Fajardo—sacked chief of Northern Police District, which includes Caloocan City—as chief of the Philippine National Police Highway Patrol insult drug war victims.

“The high-level promotions of two senior police officers who oversaw of the drug war’s bloodiest locales are a cruel affront to the families of victims,” the rights group said Friday.

The move underscores the importance of an International Criminal Court preliminary examination into the killings and the need for a parallel United Nations probe to ensure accountability for those deaths, HRW added.

Bersaluna and Fajardo were both sacked after cops under them killed 17-year-old Kian Delos Santos in August last year. The former NPD chief even defended the actions of the police, accusing the schoolboy of being a drug runner.

Caloocan police also allegedly killed 14-year-old Reynaldo De Guzman and 19-year-old Carl Arnaiz.

The deaths of the three teenagers fueled outrage against President Rodrigo Duterte’s bloody anti-narcotics campaign.

“Delos Santos and De Guzman were just two of dozens of children killed by the police and their agents in the Philippines as part of Duterte’s nearly two-year anti-drug campaign. Senior police officials have dismissed the deaths of children as ‘collateral damage’ in the drug war,” HRW said.

Last January, The Department of Justice indicted three members of the Caloocan City police for the murder of Delos Santos.

DOJ last month re-filed the double murder case of Arnaiz and De Guzman against two cops.

However, neither Bersaluna nor Fajardo have been charged in connection with the killings of the three teenagers.


As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: June 25, 2022 - 10:49am

Reuters wins Pulitzers, the most prestigious awards in American journalism, in international reporting for its story on the methods of police killing squads in President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs and for feature photography documenting the Rohingya refugee crisis in Myanmar and Bangladesh.

In covering the deadly drug war in the Philippines, Reuters reporters Clare Baldwin, Andrew R.C. Marshall and Manuel Mogato "demonstrated how police in the president’s 'drug war' have killed with impunity and consistently been shielded from prosecution," Reuters Editor-in-Chief Stephen J. Adler says.

June 25, 2022 - 10:49am

Gabriela Women's Party supports the request of International Criminal Court Prosecutor Karim Khan to resume probe on President Duterte's drug war killings. — The STAR/Sheila Crisostomo

October 20, 2021 - 10:22am

Th Department of Justice releases information on the 52 drug war cases it reviews based on police records.

Since 2016, no criminal complaint has been filed.

The DOJ notes that the cases are to undergo further investigation for possible filing of criminal charges against erring police officers.

February 28, 2021 - 1:29pm

The bloody shootout between the police and Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency in Quezon City last Wednesday should speed up implementation of better monitoring of law enforcement operations, Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto says.

Recto says law enforcers should have bodycams as well as dashboard cams in their vehicles.

“It is again a bloody reminder of a missing but vital equipment in policing—video recording devices, especially during operations,” Recto says.

Recto says in a release that he sponsored with then Sen. JV Ejercito a P5.4-billion allocation in the 2017 national budget for new police equipment, including body cameras, "but it took four years and five PNP chiefs to buy some 2,600 pieces."

February 25, 2021 - 4:42pm

Heads of Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency and Philippine National Police vow thorough probe into the shootout along Commonweatlh Avenue on Wednesday night.

They say they will defer to the findings of the joint Board of Inquiry formed to investigate the incident, where three law enforcement personnel were killed.

PDEA Director General Wilkins Villanueva says he cannot yet give operational details, saying those are still subject to investigation.

Police Gen. Debold Sinas says findings will be made public as soon as these are available.

February 25, 2021 - 1:04pm

Sen. Risa Hontiveros says she will call for a Senate investigation into the shootoout between Quezon City police officers and Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency personnel in an anti-drug operation.

"We need to look into this further. It is very alarming that this is not the first time that such a ‘misencounter’ has happened. The National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) did admit that this has happened numerous times. These ‘misencounters’ should be rare, not common," Hontiveros says.

According to initial reports, the police conducted a buy-bust operation but did not know they were transacting with PDEA personnel.

"How could this have happened, at all, in the first place? Why did the shootout take place for as long as an hour? Hindi ba pwedeng magkalinawan, even within the first few minutes, that a misencounter breaks out?" Hontiveros adds.

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