MANILA—Sen. Richard “Dick” Gordon on Thursday called the report of human rights watchdog Amnesty International (AI) “hearsay” and said that he is not willing to conduct a probe into their allegations unless they present solid evidence to back up their allegations.
AI claimed that members of the Philippine National Police (PNP) kill and pay others to kill alleged drug offenders.
In its report titled, “If you are poor you are killed”: Extrajudicial Executions in the Philippines’ “War on Drugs”, the organization detailed how the police have targeted the poor and plant evidence, recruit paid killers, steal from the people they kill and fabricate official incident reports.
“I have been asked whether or not hearings will be conducted on the recent Amnesty International report on the alleged extrajudicial killings,” Gordon said in a statement.
He made this remark after Sen. Francis “Chiz” Escudero said that he will be filing a resolution next week for the Senate to look into what he described as “serious allegations” by the international human rights watchdog.
Gordon, chair of the Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights, said he acknowledged that recurring reports of extrajudicial killings in the country were not only “worrisome” but also “disquieting.”
He, however, said that the reports he got were “mostly hearsay” from people who have told him that deaths were caused by extrajudicial killings or “Tokhang” activities.
“…We cannot act on mere hearsay. And the (AI) report, on this score, does not yet rise above hearsay,” Gordon said.
“…To conduct a hearing based on hearsay is to expend precious government resources on mere ‘tsismis’ (rumors),” he added.
He stressed that if the AI would present “solid evidence to back up an assertion” he would be the first to say that a hearing must be conducted.
Sen. Panfilo “Ping” Lacson, like Gordon, also urged the AI to present evidence and pointed out that the organization had had previous allegations that were not supported by facts.
He said that their allegations gave the country a bad reputation and it was citizens’ job to demand proof.