PNP appeals to rights groups for fairness
PNP chief Gen. Camilo Cascolan lamented that human rights groups seem to be protective of criminal offenders by portraying them as innocent but are quick to condemn the actions of police officers accused of committing irregularities in law enforcement operations.
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PNP appeals to rights groups for fairness
Emmanuel Tupas (The Philippine Star) - September 25, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Gen. Camilo Cascolan appealed to human rights advocates critical of the government’s war on illegal drugs to give them their “fair share of justice” similar to what policemen have accorded to suspected criminals.

Cascolan lamented that human rights groups seem to be protective of criminal offenders by portraying them as innocent but are quick to condemn the actions of police officers accused of committing irregularities in law enforcement operations.

“They tend to say that these criminals are innocent but when you come to policemen, they say that we are already guilty,” he said during an interview with “The Chiefs” on One News / TV5 on Wednesday night.

Cascolan, one of the authors of the PNP’s flagship anti-drug campaign program Oplan Double Barrel, said human rights watchdogs have also sided with communist New People’s Army (NPA) rebels charged with murder and other heinous crimes.

Instead of prejudging police officers involved in shootouts with suspected drug dealers, Cascolan said human rights groups should also treat them fairly.

“We would want to have a fair share of what we call justice. That’s all we really want,” he said.

The Human Rights Watch (HRW) said drug-related killings worsened in the country during the community quarantine to contain the coronavirus disease pandemic.

Citing government data, the HRW said 155 drug suspects were killed in law enforcement operations from April to July 2020, which is 50 percent higher compared to 103 fatalities recorded from December 2019 to March 2020 when the community quarantine was not yet in place.

The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) said at least 5,810 drug suspects were killed during anti-drug operations since President Duterte took office in July 2016.

Cascolan added human rights groups also have the habit of bloating figures of the death toll in the drug war. He was referring to previous statements by critics that around 27,000 people were killed in the anti-drug campaign.

For Cascolan, policemen should also be given the benefit of the doubt, noting that drug suspects killed in alleged shootouts could still be alive had they not fought back.

“If suspects fought it out with policemen, we could not do otherwise but to survive,” he said.

Cascolan assured the public that allegations of some policemen killing drug suspects and other criminals in cold blood are being investigated and those found guilty will be punished.

The PNP will also continue supporting the country’s Anti-Terrorism Law even if it means losing security assistance from the United States.

PNP spokesman Col. Ysmael Yu made the statement in response to the proposed bill by Pennsylvania Rep. Susan Wild seeking to suspend the provision of US security assistance to the Philippines because of human rights abuses being committed by state security forces.

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