MANILA — Malacañang has slammed Senator Leila de Lima and Commission on Human Rights Chairman Chito Gascon for contradicting their own definition of extra-judicial killings, based on Administrative Order No. 35 that established the inter-agency committee on extra-judicial killings (EJK) during former president Benigno Aquino’s III’s administration.
In a statement released Monday, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said De Lima and Gascon have contradicted themselves in their latest stance on the issue. Roque said AO 35 defined extra-legal killings as a death due to a person’s membership to a political, environmental, agrarian, labor organization, or a media practitioner.
“Moreover, they added that for purposes of the focused mandate of AO No. 35, killings related to common criminals and/or the perpetration of their crimes shall be addressed by other appropriate, mechanisms within the justice system,” Roque said.
“How is it now that when drug pushers or users die, Senator De Lima and Chairman Gascon insist that these are EJKs? Their sudden about-face is baffling, given that these drug pushers and users are not members or affiliated with any political, environmental, agrarian, or labor organization. These drug pushers or users are likewise not journalists,” Roque pointed out.
Roque said if De Lima and Gascon really stand by the AO, in which they are signatories, they should also defend the Duterte administration’s campaign against illegal drugs, as it is consistent with it.
During the signing of the AO, De Lima was Justice Secretary while Gascon was the undersecretary for the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Political Affairs (OPAPA).
“It is high time that the hypocrisies of Senator De Lima and Chairman Gascon are exposed in favor of the truth. The Filipino people deserve no less,” Roque said.
Roque further urged the two to admit their mistake for signing the AO during Aquino’s term, if they really believe that the deaths in the drug war are EJKs.
“But if they believe today that the reported deaths in the war on drugs are EJKs, they should also admit to the nation and to the world that what they did during the Aquino administration was wrong — that Aquino only signed AO No. 35 — so that his administration would not be blamed for the deaths of drug pushers and users during his presidency,” the Malacañang spokesperson said.
AO No. 35, which was adopted on April 18, 2013, establishes the inter-agency committee on extra-legal killings, enforced disappearances, torture, and other grave violations of the right to life, liberty, and security of persons.