Asked about changes after Tarlac killings, Roque says opposition should change instead
This screengrab is from the June 30, 2020 press briefing by presidential spokesperson Harry Roque.
PTV, screen grab

Asked about changes after Tarlac killings, Roque says opposition should change instead

Franco Luna (Philstar.com) - December 22, 2020 - 3:53pm

MANILA, Philippines — If any change is to come out of the killing of a mother and her son in Paniqui, Tarlac, the president's press secretary said Tuesday that he thinks it should be on the part of the opposition, whose criticism, he said, has become repetitive.

Speaking at a press briefing on Tuesday, Roque leaned once again on the narrative that concerns over human rights and alleged police brutality are just an attempt by the opposition to discredit the Duterte administration.

"The only test for a police officer to use violence is if there is a threat to his life. It's the opposition who should probably recalibrate because they sound like broken records," the president's spokesman said. 

READ: EJKs and abuse just a narrative by critics, Palace rights panel assures cops

"It takes only one [police officer] to destroy the reputation and integrity of the institution. What is 'state-sponsored' there when that one cop was crazy?" he added. 

The reputation the agency has earned over the years did not materialize overnight. Over the past four years of the Duterte administration, the PNP recorded nearly 8,000 deaths linked to official anti-drug operations although the government's official "Real Numbers" count is at nearly 6,000 "drug personalities" killed in law enforcement operations.

Rights watchdogs say the death toll could be as high as 26,000 although the estimate is not limited to those killed in operations.

The PNP's spokesperson has rejected the notion that violence within the agency is a systemic issue, opting to call the incident an "isolated case"—a phrase often used to refer to incidents involving the police.

Critics have attributed incidents of alleged abuse to statements from President Rodrigo Duterte and his officials backing security personnel.

At a speech in Cavite earlier this month, Duterte stated plainly: "I don't give a shit about human rights." 

READ: 'I don't care about human rights,' Duterte says, urging cops to 'shoot first'

"All addicts have guns. If there's even a hint of wrongdoing, any overt act, even if you don't see a gun, just go ahead and shoot him," he said then in Filipino.

"You should go first, because you might be shot. Shoot him first, because he will really draw his gun on you, and you will die...As far as you can go in accordance to the law, if you suspect that you might be in danger, just kill them."

Duterte in a televised meeting on Monday night said that he will not protect police officers who commit abuses

"Ang akin dito ulitin ko: Do your duty enforce the law. Your actions must be in accordance with the law. You do not follow the law, mag-salvage ka, magpatay ka diyan (if you kill people), then I'm sorry, that is not part of the agreement of how we should do our work," Duterte said.

He said Police SMSgt. Jonel Nuezca, the officer caught on video killing two people on Sunday, will be held accountable and that the Philippine National Police should make sure he remains in detention.

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