When I launched the investigation on the extrajudicial killings more than four years ago, one of the main concerns was the abuse of the police in using the war on drugs to kill with impunity. They fabricated cases against me then had me arrested and detained.
After tens of thousands of deaths from the poor, the suspected drug users, to soldiers, to PDEA agents, to activists and even elected public servants, the outcry against unjustified, arbitrary killings remain low. Aside from scripted lip service from random spokespersons, this administration has done nothing to abate the murders being committed by state agents.
And why would they? Wasn’t it Duterte himself who said “I don’t care about human rights” when he assumed office in 2016, and repeatedly thereafter? He even reprised himself this year when he ordered to “kill communists right away, ignore human rights.”
His apologists say that he was only using hyperbole, but his spokesperson affirmed his “kill, kill, kill” policy while National Security Adviser Esperon said that he backs Duterte’s “shoot-to-kill” order. Defense Secretary Lorenzana likewise confirmed that the soldiers are implementing the “shoot-to-kill” order.
Under such blanket Duterte-ordered violence, the Calbayog police developed the gall to ask the court for a list of lawyers representing alleged “Communist-terrorist” groups. They even had the temerity to include a chart where the list should be placed along with the case information and a supposed “mode of neutralization.”
The events of the past few years have shown that the police under this administration have all but eliminated peaceful surrender of anyone that they unilaterally and unlawfully determined to be their enemies. After killing activists and, recently, even Calbayog Mayor Ronald Aquino himself, the police want to train their guns on the lawyers who are only doing their duties as advocates for their clients.
How can Duterte and his administration disown the murderous actions by the police when he himself made it a policy to establish a culture of wanton and unjust violence?
While our country suffers from Duterte’s gross mismanagement of the COVID-19 pandemic, his police and soldiers are carrying out his “shoot-to-kill” orders.
They went after the poor and the defenseless, and nobody spoke. They went after soldiers and PDEA agents, and still nobody spoke. Now they are openly going after lawyers. Until when will our people remain silent against these police abuses?
Duterte has repeatedly said that he will take responsibility for the actions of his men, that he will go to jail for them. Yesterday was the time that he made good on this promise. But now is also acceptable. Lock yourself up, Mr. Duterte, and rot.
Defend our rule of law. Defend our justice system. Defend the legal profession. ###
(Access the handwritten copy of Dispatch from Crame No. 1043, here: https://issuu.com/senatorleilam.delima/docs/dispatch_1043)