MANILA – The Senate in its inquiry into extrajudicial killings on Monday urged law enforcers, particularly the Philippine National Police (PNP), to classify the cases of slain suspected drug pushers by murder or homicide.
One of the witnesses, Harra Kazuo, 26, was the pregnant live-in partner of suspected drug dealer JP Bertes. JP and his father, Renato Bertes were allegedly killed by Pasay City cops last July 7.
She recounted how three Pasay police officers, whom she did not name, beat up her partner, raided their house and demanded the surrender of drugs she said she did not have at that time.
PNP-Pasay City Officer-in-Charge Police Supt. Nolasco Bathan said that cases of murder were already filed against these police officers.
However, chair of the Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights, Senator Leila de Lima sought some clarification.
“We all know that under the revised penal code, killing is either homicide or murder. Why murder, not homicide?” de Lima asked.
Bathan said that murder was filed “to show that we are not tolerating (it) if our police officers are involved in wrongdoing”.
De Lima later asked Bathan to instead submit a copy of records and findings to the Senate.
The second witness, Mary Rose Aquino, 23, was the eldest daughter of suspected drug dealers Rodelio and Rosalie Campos. Like Kazuo, she also admitted that her parents used and sold drugs which they sourced from Antipolo police officers.
Senator Antonio “Sonny” Trillanes IV meanwhile asked why poor drug pushers were killed while drug lords were not. He said that it appears that they are wiping out their connection to drug syndicates.
PNP Chief, Dir. Gen. Ronald dela Rosa, reiterated that the police did not select which people to kill, assuring that investigations were ongoing.
Looking exasperated, dela Rosa said that if only President Rodrigo Duterte would ask the PNP to stop its anti-drug campaign, they would. He however said he doubts the President would issue such an order.
He also lamented that more police officers were being killed. Dela Rosa noted that from July 1 until the present, more than 700 cops were killed in legitimate police operations while more than 1,000 were killed outside operations.
The PNP chief also said that as of last February, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) reported that 11,341 barangays (villages), or 27 percent of the country’s 42,065 barangays, are drug-affected.
He said that the National Capital Region (NCR) has the highest rate with 1,611 barangays, or 94 percent affected, followed by Calabarzon with more or less 3,000 or 75 percent of total barangays.
The Dangerous Drugs Board’s (DDB) National Household Survey meanwhile disclosed that the country has 1.8 million drug users, 619,000 (28 percent) of whom are unemployed, Dela Rosa said.
Other estimates last Aug. 18 put the figure at 3.7 million drug users nationwide, he said.
Through the PNP anti-illegal drugs campaign plan from July 1 to Aug. 21, Dela Rosa said that police were able to arrest 10,153 drug pushers and users.
Over the same period, more than 600,000 individuals surrendered to authorities; more than 6,000 police operations were conducted in various regions nationwide where 718 were killed; and an estimated PHP2.3 billion worth of illegal drugs were confiscated.
“This situation indicates the magnitude of the drug problem in our country and while much have been done to eradicate illegal drugs, the problem has become worse, especially at the grassroots level,” Dela Rosa said.
“The PNP stand on extrajudicial killings is uncompromising. If a policeman is found that he violated the law, he will be investigated, prosecuted and accordingly punished. PNP will never condone vigilante killings,” he reiterated.
Dela Rosa meanwhile maintained that the PNP is “more than willing” to adopt the results of the Senate investigation.
“The PNP remains loyal to our sworn mandate to serve and protect the Filipino people in accordance to the rule of law,” he said.