Amnesty tells Duterte to stop inciting bloodshed after âkillâ order to Espenido
File photo shows Lt. Col. Jovie Espenido.
The STAR/Edd Gumban, File
Amnesty tells Duterte to stop inciting bloodshed after ‘kill’ order to Espenido
Gaea Katreena Cabico ( - October 18, 2019 - 5:35pm

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine government should focus on initiating investigations into police abuses instead of encouraging violence, a rights watchdog stressed following President Rodrigo Duterte’s order to a controversial cop to “kill everybody.”

“This encouragement of bloodshed must end once and for all and efforts toward this must begin at the highest levels of government, notably the president himself,” Butch Olano, Amnesty International Philippines section director, said Friday. 

Olano made the statement a day after the chief executive said he had assigned Lt. Col. Jovie Espenido to Bacolod City in Negros Occidental because the city is “badly hit now.”

“I said: ‘Go there and you are free to kill everybody. Go start killing them,” Duterte said in a speech before businessmen Thursday. 

The AI Philippines official said the president’s “blatant and continued incitement to kill” has only resulted in thousands of extrajudicial killings and other human rights violations.

At least 6,847 drug personalities have been slain in anti-narcotics operations since Duterte assumed office in mid-2016, according to government figures. But the figure is significantly lower than the estimates by human rights watchdogs of as many as 27,000 killed.

“Instead of such threatening pronouncements, the government must initiate credible and effective investigations into police abuses, including allegations of their involvement in illegal drug trade,” Olano said.

He added: “We reiterate that an important first step to ending this cycle of violence and impunity is to direct the police to stop the killings and bring to justice those found to be involved in previous abusive operations.”

‘Why is he promoted?’

Olano also questioned why Espenido was promoted as a lieutenant colonel and designated to lead Bacolod’s anti-drug campaign.

“Lt. Col. Jovie Espenido should not have been promoted and appointed to a senior position in the first place, given his involvement in bloody operations in the past,” he said.

Ozamiz City Mayor Reynaldo Parojinog, his wife and other relatives were killed in drug raids when Espenido was the city’s police chief.

It was also during Espenido’s term as police chief of Albuera, Leyte when Mayor Rolando Espinosa was killed during a bloody search operation in a jail facility.

Duterte on Thursday described Espenido as “‘yung tinatakutan nila na pulis.” (The cop they fear the most.)

“Others like him have also been transferred and promoted instead of being accountable for the thousands of killings in the government’s ‘war on drugs,’” Olano said.

He added: “It appears that under his administration, not only illegal drugs but also errant cops are being recycled, and, more worringly, rewarded.”

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