De Lima seeks creation of Anti-EJK Council

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Sen. Leila M. de Lima today sought the creation of an Inter-Agency Council Against Extrajudicial Killings (Anti-EJK Council) to ensure that government law enforcement agencies adhere to minimum standards in the prevention and investigation of extralegal killings.

De Lima, a known human rights advocate, filed Senate Bill No. 1197 which seeks to address institutional barriers to efficient, independent and impartial investigation of extrajudicial killings among concerned government agencies.

“The Filipino as a nation cannot negate that EJK is a clear and present phenomenon of the times, boldly challenging our constitutionally-protected human rights against taking of life, transgression of due process, and presumption of innocence of criminal suspects,” she said.

“Extrajudicial killing has become a grave concern in our homes, within Philippine shores and around the world that demands only the most certain effort through legislation,” she added.

Official figures showed that, as of last Oct. 10, about 3,844 people have so far died since the government’s war against drugs was launched last July 1, of whom 1,550 died in police operations while 2,294 in extrajudicial or vigilante-style killings.

“This incidence of kills and deaths is reminiscent of the country situation that prompted the mission to the Philippines of Philip Alston, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Killings,” the neophyte senator said.

In 2007, Alston noted 100 to 800 death of leftist activists between 2001 and 2007 in his State Report on the implementation of the Philippines’ commitment under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

The former justice secretary also noted how the international community and multilateral organizations have expressed grave concern over the unabated spate of recent extrajudicial killings carried out under the government’s all-out campaign against drugs.

“Besides the United Nations, (foreign) governments have also spoken on the unacceptability of extrajudicial killings,” she said, pointing out that the Philippine government has been put to task to put an end to these drug-related killings.

Under SB 1197, the Anti-EJK Council shall coordinate with the Philippine National Police (PNP) and National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), and Commission on Human Rights (CHR), to adhere to minimum standards in the conduct of regular police intervention operations, such as but not limited to arrest, raid, search and seizure.

Chaired by the Secretary of the Department of Justice, the Anti-EJK Council shall be composed of heads of various concerned law enforcement agencies, such as PNP, NBI, CHR, and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA).

It shall also be composed by the respective chairpersons of the Philippine Commission on Women and the National Youth Commission and shall be represented by two non-governmental organizations as appointed by the President.

The proposed measure also seeks to define and provide penalty for acts that qualify as extrajudicial killings in order to ensure accountability of state and non-state actors as well as paramilitary groups in compliance with government drive for public order.

Under SB 1197, life imprisonment without parole shall be imposed for any public officer, person in authority, agency of a person in authority or private individual who would be found guilty of extrajudicial killing.

Except in conflict-stricken communities, the local chief executive and chief of police shall also be presumed administratively negligent when there is a notable increase of extrajudicial killing cases within their area of jurisdiction.

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