Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has refuted Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) Chief Persida Acosta’s claim that there are no state-sponsored killings following the conviction of three policemen linked in the murder of teenager Kian Loyd de los Santos.
De Lima, a known human rights defender, said the conviction of these policemen does not make the more than 23,000 summary executions committed by the police and vigilante death squads any less as state-sanctioned extrajudicial killings (EJKs).
“There is no logic in PAO Chief Persida Acosta’s claim that the conviction of three police officers for the murder of Kian delos Santos proves that there are no extra-judicial killings (EJKs),” she said in her recent Dispatch from Crame No. 429.
“The fact that only a few cases among thousands are investigated, prosecuted, and handed out convictions instead proves that the EJKs are state-sponsored. To cite one example of conviction in thousands of cases of unresolved killings of drug suspects is therefore a leap of logic,” she added.
Last Nov. 29, Caloocan RTC Branch 125 Judge Rodolfo Azucena Jr. convicted PO3 Arnel Oares, PO1 Jeremias Pereda, and PO1 Jerwin Cruz, and sentenced them to reclusion perpetua, or to 20 to 40 years in prison under the Revised Penal Code.
These convicted policemen killed the 17-year-old De los Santos for allegedly fighting out with the arresting officers during a drug raid in Caloocan City in Aug. 16, 2017. Following the lower court’s verdict, Acosta insisted that De los Santos’ case should not be considered an EJK, saying how it supposedly proved that state authorities are not condoning merciless killings.
Acosta further claimed that the killer policemen were out to sabotage Duterte’s drug war, and that they deliberately staged Kian’s execution, just to discredit Duterte.
In a stark rebuke to Acosta, the former justice secretary said the killing of De los Santos is the very impunity displayed in Duterte’s most murderous war on drugs.
“Regardless of CCTVs and witnesses, summary executions are carried out with impunity because the policemen believe Duterte when he said that no one following his orders to kill drug suspects will ever go to jail,” she said.
The lady Senator from Bicol noted that the government “had no choice” but to prosecute the three killer policemen who served as patsies in the EJK campaign that is orchestrated by no less than Duterte himself.
“For the government, there was no way out of the situation but to sacrifice the three policemen,” she said. “The three policemen were following Duterte’s orders in his drug war. Because of Duterte’s orders, Kian is dead.”
As a vocal critic of government’s war on drugs, De Lima filed Senate Resolution No. (SRN) 9 seeking for an investigation into the rampant extrajudicial killings and summary executions of suspected drug offenders in the country, as early as 2016.
She has also filed SRNs. 357, 358, 421, 451, calling for a Senate investigation into the alleged involvement of some unscrupulous police officers in cases of extrajudicial killings and summary executions.