Dispatch from Crame No. 180: Sen. Leila M. de Lima’s Statement on the Zero EJK claim of the Duterte Administration

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The PNP and Malacañang claim that there are zero EJKs under the Duterte Administration because as defined in Administrative Order No. 35 issued by President Benigno S. Aquino III, the term “extra-judicial killing” only covers the killing of members of cause-oriented militant organizations and media. Secretary Andanar went further. He said there can be no EJK in a country that does not recognize “judicial killing” due to the abolition of the death penalty.

Ginagago na naman tayo. Puro lang panggagago. Ang puno’t dulo ng pamahalaang ito ay puro kagaguhan.

AO35 did not seek an all-encompassing definition of EJK. It defined EJK for purposes of the objective for which it was issued, the creation of an inter-agency committee that would investigate the killings of activists and media personnel which were the prevalent cases of EJKs during the Arroyo Administration. It was to limit and to make clear that the mandate of the committee was not to investigate any and all cases of EJKs but only those that involved activists and media personnel slain during the Arroyo Administration and even under the Aquino Administration, albeit with the latter registering much fewer no. of incidents.

A.O.35 had to be clear about the nature of the EJKs it was to investigate in order to be effective, lest the urgency of investigating the kind of rampant EJKs then committed under the immediately preceding administration of President Arroyo would lose focus.

I should know. I drafted AO 35.

Of course, it was then farthest from my mind to spell out in big capital letters and large fonts that AO 35’s DEFINITION OF EJKs WAS ONLY FOR PURPOSES OF ITS OPERATIONALIZATION AND IMPLEMENTATION, i.e., the investigation by the inter-agency committee of the killings of activists and journalists, and not for purposes of freeing public officials from accountability for state-sanctioned murder.

I did not, because I did not know then that the Administration succeeding the Aquino Administration will be populated by hustlers, wags and falsifiers who think they can get away with murder if this proviso in AO 35 is written in small font only. Besides, I did not know then that such succeeding regime will be that of the murderous Duterte who like his stint as Mayor of Davao, will be targeting drug offenders and petty criminals for summary execution, hence, the non-inclusion of such specie of EJKs in the operational coverage of AO35.

It is not even worthwhile anymore to engage Malacañang in this kind of amateurish but perverse word games, except for the fact that they still are in control of government and the life of this country. Because when our top government officials have no remaining self-respect whatsoever to even try to mask their lack of moral and intellectual integrity, there is no longer any hope left.

Secretaries Abella and Andanar, the PNP and yes, Secretary Cayetano (the originator of the tactic in muddling AO35) can pretend that Duterte and his administration can get away with 13,000 EJKs through wordplay. But they can pretend only for so long. Already the writing is on the wall. No amount of spin and deception can cover-up the double-digit plunge of Duterte’s popularity in one survey period, a plunge that came precisely from the people’s belief and fear that anyone of them or their loved ones can now be the victim of EJKs anytime.

Because of the government’s EJK policy, most Filipinos now think that they can die anytime. And when Duterte’s much-ballyhooed promise of security and order turns into the people’s uncertainty as to their own survival from marauding police vigilantes, it becomes clear that this administration is no longer fooling anyone… All they are fooling are themselves, in their belief that they can get away with the murder of thousands. ###

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