Dispatch from Crame No. 429: Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima’s Statement on Public Attorney’s Office Chief Persida Acosta’s False and Illogical Claim that there are no state-sponsored extrajudicial killings


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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). The conviction of the police officers does not make the more than 23,000 summary executions committed by the police and vigilante death squads any less as state-sanctioned EJKs.

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.

Because of the incontrovertible CCTV and eyewitness evidence in Kian’s case, the government had no choice but to prosecute the three killer policemen. But Acosta cannot deny that before the case came to court, the government through the PNP undertook all efforts to paint Kian as a drug peddler in order to downplay his murder by the policemen. The message was that since Kian was a drug peddler, he deserved to die. This is the very justification of Duterte’s drug war.

However, the PNP propaganda instead met a backlash of public outcry for justice. For the government, there was no way out of the situation but to sacrifice the three policemen. In a sense, the three policemen served as patsies in the EJK campaign that is orchestrated by no less than Duterte. The three policemen were following Duterte’s orders in his drug war. Because of Duterte’s orders, Kian is dead.

What is therefore more ridiculous is Acosta’s claim that the killer policemen were out to sabotage Duterte’s drug war, and that they deliberately staged Kian’s execution, even unmindful of the CCTVs, just to discredit Acosta’s principal, Duterte.

Acosta asks: “Why would these police officers do that act of accosting a child unarmed? They made a scene. They knew there was a CCTV. There were many people playing basketball at the time. Why would they do that if they have good faith to uphold the legitimacy of the drug war?”

To answer Acosta’s questions: because that is the very impunity displayed in Duterte’s drug war. 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.

For the most part, Duterte kept his promise, as only a handful of thousands of executions carried out by policemen and vigilantes ever reached the courts. Kian’s case is a consolation, the exception rather than the rule. This does not make his murder any less of a state-sanctioned EJK. ###

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