Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has dared anew the Philippine National Police (PNP) to present irrefutable proof to substantiate its claim that most of the casualties in the government’s all-out war on drugs resisted arrest and fought back.
De Lima issued the challenge after PNP spokesman, Police Col. Bernard Banac, claimed that the 6,600 suspects killed in around 153,000 police operations since Mr. Duterte assumed office put up violent resistance against its operatives.
“Words are not enough. The PNP must present solid and irrefutable proof that the suspects killed in the government’s war on drugs resisted arrest and fought back,” said De Lima, a known vocal critic of Mr. Duterte’s campaign against illegal drugs.
“Hindi sapat ang larawan ng isang suspect na nakabulagta na may katabing luma at kinakalawang na baril para masabing nanlaban ito. Higit pa rito ang kailangang ipakita ng PNP para mawala ang duda ng taumbayan,” she added.
Banac made the statement in response to UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCNR) Michelle Bachelet’s concern over the “extraordinarily high number of deaths and persistent reports of extrajudicial killings in the government’s drug war.
Despite being in detention for trumped-up drug charges filed by the administration, De Lima has filed several resolutions seeking to investigate the thousands of deaths under the government’s all-out war on drugs.
During the 17th Congress, she filed Senate Bill No. 1373 which seeks to strengthen the PNP’s Human Rights Affairs Office (or PNP-HRAO), committing itself to the highest regard for human rights and rule of law in the exercise of its mandate.
According to the former justice secretary, there are persistent alarming reports that some police officers are involved not only in the commission but also in the cover-up of heinous crimes, especially in the implementation of the government’s war on drugs.
De Lima pointed out that the involvement of some erring PNP officers in crimes raises serious doubts not only about the competence and credibility but also, most importantly, their ability and commitment to discharge their duties according to law.
In addition, De Lima has repeatedly called on the international community, especially the United Nations Human Rights Council, to look into the rampant killings emanating from Duterte’s war on drugs.
De Lima has described the government’s war on drugs as a sham and a complete failure since it has failed to address the root of the problem and resulted in the deaths of thousands of Filipinos, with most of the casualties coming from the poor. While the government repeatedly claims a much lower figure of casualties in its drug war, the deaths under the category “homicide under investigation” number more than 25,000 since Duterte assumed office in 2016.