MANILA—A Senator on Tuesday said reports that no killings took place overnight after the Philippine National Police (PNP) suspended its campaign against illegal drugs was a “commendable coincidence.”
Sen. Panfilo “Ping” Lacson made this remark on his Twitter account pointing out that an average of 10 to 11 people were killed daily while the war against drugs was still being implemented.
“When (Oplan) Tokhang was active, we’re averaging 10 to 11 days overnight. I think it’s worth clarifying with them,” Lacson said.
While only policemen should be following the order of Pres. Rodrigo Duterte to stop the crackdown against illegal drugs, Lacson said that it seemed like vigilantes also followed the order.
“If there were zero killings overnight, let’s ask ourselves: Why does it seem like even vigilantes followed (the order)?” Lacson told reporters in an interview.
Lacson, a former PNP chief, said that it “says a lot” about the PNP crackdown against illegal drugs.
He said that ironically, the PNP will have to explain why there were zero deaths this time instead of explaining why the death toll was increasing.
The senator, however, said that it was better not to bring reports of zero killings into attention as it might makes matters “worse.”
“If we call this to their attention, a person might die tonight. Damn if you do, damn if you don’t so it’s better not to talk about it. It’s good enough there people are not dying overnight,” he added.
Lacson also said that the right way to carry out the crackdown against illegal drugs is with coordination with the Philippine Drug Enforcement Association (PDEA).
Meanwhile, he said PNP chief Director General Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa should work on “disproving” the statement of Pres. Rodrigo Duterte that the PNP is “corrupt to the core.”
The senator said that it was “unfair” to call most police officers “corrupt” but suggested that cleansing the ranks should be a continuing process.
Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan, like Lacson, welcomed reports of zero killings but reminded the PNP to prioritize punishing abusive policemen.
“We hope they can discipline the abusive police. We hope they are charged in court,” Pangilinan said.
He also expressed hope that the halt in illegal drug operations means there will be a more holistic approach to the illegal drugs trade.
Senator Leila de Lima, for her part, said that she believed police officials were responsible for most of the killings. “It is proven that within 24 hour after the Tokhang was stopped at the AIDG (Anti-Illegal Drugs Group) was abolished, why were there no reports of deaths overnight,” De Lima said.