Duterte’s office unfazed by lawyers’ petition over killings by police

Duterte’s office unfazed by lawyers’ petition over killings by police

Senators issue esolution condemning extrajudicial killings in the Philippines’ anti-drug campaign

Manila: The Philippine president’s office has said it welcomes the filing of a petition asking government agencies to investigate cases of extrajudicial killings.

In a statement, spokesperson Ernesto Abella said the Presidential Palace welcomed the filing of the petition, by five human rights lawyers, asking the Supreme Court to look into the rising number of extrajudicial killings and arbitrary executions.

The killings have been taken place since last year and have already claimed the lives of thousands of people.

“We welcome the petition and will respond,” Abella said.

“Authorities follow protocols and procedures during the conduct of police operations. Drug-related killings form part of cases under investigation by the police, alongside murder and homicide cases,” he addd.

The spokesperson said the public would be given access to the results of the investigation; “however, specific details on ongoing investigations are only released when these details will not compromise the investigation, follow-up operations, and other related activities.”

The lawyers who signed the petition, Evalyn Ursua, Mary Jane Real, Maria Lulu Reyes,Joan Dymphna Saniel and Anna May Baquirin; said thousands, including children, have already died in the government drive against drugs.

Meanwhile, Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel led the majority bloc of the Senate in filing a Resolution in the Senate condemning extrajudicial killings while calling on the government to “exert and exhaust all efforts” to stop these and other unsolved killings.

The resolution was signed by 16 members of the majority, except for Senator Joel Villanueva, who is on sick leave but communicated his agreement.

“The Senate is against the violent death of every Filipino, and will seek justice for its victims. The Philippines is a civilized democratic society that will not tolerate unresolved killings. The police must do its job and solve these crimes.”

The Senate President added, “Let it be known that the Senate, as the bastion of democracy, will not surrender its duty to protect and defend the human rights of every Filipino.

For President Rodrigo Duterte, the government war against drugs is also exacting a heavy toll to law enforcers’ lives.

The leader has said 200 soldiers and policemen have died since the campaign against drugs started last year.

Speaking during the celebration of the 56th anniversary of the Philippine Constitution Association at the Manila Hotel, Duterte said the government does not fabricate data to deceive the public with regard to the number of casualties during anti-drug operations.

“There are some countries which are insulting us to open our records to them, everything. Who are you to do that? If you don’t believe our records, then go out and find something else to do. We do not fabricate,” the President said.

In their petition, the lawyers who filed the petition before the Supreme Court said national police chief Ronald dela Rosa, Commission on Human Rights Chairman Chito Gascon, and Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II should order their respective agencies to look into all these killings.

Duterte said he is ready to resign if it is found out that the drug killings were ordered by the government.

“Find me one, even one officer or a patrolman, find me one that would say that I ordered them to execute criminals and you will have my resignation tomorrow. I’m only asking for one — patrolman or a police officer,” he said.