Duterte to HR groups on killings: “do not keep on harping; go out and collect evidence”

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 16 July) – President Rodrigo Duterte called on human rights groups to investigate alleged extrajudicial killings (EJKs) of suspects in his war on drugs.

“Do not keep on harping. Go out and collect evidence,” Duterte said late Friday night after meeting with Cebu-based businessman Peter Lim. The latter claimed he was not the Peter Lim alias Jaguar who was named by Duterte as a member of the triad engaged in the illegal drugs trade.

A recording of Duterte’s pronouncements late Friday night, released by the Radio TV Malacanang (RTVM), had Duterte saying the campaign against illegal drugs is “not just an operation. It’s a war.”

“Baka akala lang kasi nila itong ngayon its’ just an operation. It’s a war. Wala akong pakialam dyan basta I reiterate my .. I will stand by the law enforcement, and the security. Sabi nila extrajudicial killings. . Eh di imbestigahin ninyo! Do not keep on harping. Go out and collect evidence. Sige lang kayo… gago ba ako magsabi ng extrajudicial killings, nga ipatay mo yang tao?” Duterte told officials inside the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) at the Davao City Police Office.

Duterte narrated his experience, as mayor of the city for 22 years, that drug users and pushers are “sira yan” (destroyed). He said addicts are usually paranoid and would bring guns because they think someone is running after them to kill them.

Addressing the children and spouses of addicts, Duterte said: “do not try (drugs). You will get into trouble.” He said if God wills that he continues to live in the next six years, “the next six years will be very, very hard for you.”

“Iwasan ninyo kasi matutuyo itong utak ninyo… mulanay ang inyong utok, mugamay. Para kang naggulgul ng sarili mo (Avoid it because it will dry up your brains. .. your brains will melt, will shrink. It’s like you’re slitting your own neck), the President said.

To die early?

He said he can’t understand “bakit ka magpakamatay dyan sa putangina yang droga na yan (why will you die for that f__king drugs)… to die early or to have a troubled life or a destroyed future?”

“Kung may tao dyan na magpabili sa inyo ng droga, saksakin mo kasi ang ambisyon nyan ikaw ang magsuporta sa kanya. Maghanap din siya ng magsuporta sa kanya (If there is somebody who sells you drugs, stab him because his ambition is for you to support him. He will find a way for people to support him [by buying from him] and it goes round and round and round,” Duterte said.

The President took note of the “enormity” of the illegal drugs problem, with 65,000 already “surrendering” to the police.

Addressing human rights groups, Duterte said “anong masasabi ninyo? Tulungan ninyo kami?” (what can you say? You will help us?”)

He said they are welcome to go to Malacanang. “I’ll give you a table. I’ll present to you the problem. Solve it. Sabihin ko sa police na hinto kayo. Ibigay natin sa kanila. O sige sundin nyo sila anong utos nila” (I will tell the police, ‘stop. Let’s give it to them. Follow their orders).”

Statistics

Citing records of the Philippine National Police (PNP), the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) reported that from July 1 to 13, the Duterte administration’s war on crime has chalked up big numbers: 135 persons killed or about 10 persons a day on average, and 1,844 arrested or about 141 persons a day on average.”

“In two weeks’ time, the campaign has also nudged the “surrender” of 60,393 alleged drug users and 5,914 alleged drug pushers, apart from 43,026 houses “visited” by local and village officials to target and flush out suspects,” the PCIJ said, citing PNP data.

Earlier, Ifugao Rep. Teodoro Baguilat Jr. filed a resolution calling for a congressional investigation into the spate of killings by police of suspected drug criminals.

Baguilat’s resoljtion said the Constitution mandates that no one should be deprived of life without due process of law, and that all accused are presumed innocent.”

At the Senate, Senator Leila de Lima, chair of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) in the latter part of the Arroyo administration and Justice Secretary under the Aquino administration, also called for a similar probe.

But incoming House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez of Davao del Norte said he sees “little need” for a congressional probe on the spate of drug-related killings, saying the House should instead focus on passing priority laws.

No need for probe

In a press release Saturday, Alvarez said that if indeed some of the killings are proven to be summary executions, he sees no new laws that may be passed by Congress “to address what may already be illegal acts.”

“For if in the course of an investigation, the evidence should point to extra-judicial killing — that’s already illegal. So, what new law may be passed in relation to that?” he asked.

“Congress needs to pass too many laws to waste its time on an investigation on something that should be left in the hands of the Department of Justice and the NBI (National Bureau of Investigation),” Alvarez was quoted as saying.

Alvarez noted that Congress investigating drug-related killings “will only invite suspicion that some of its members may be accused of protecting drug lords by probing the government’s offensive against illegal drugs.”

“I don’t want any insinuation that the druglords are using members of Congress to investigate the police so the latter would go slow on their campaign against illegal drugs,” he said.

He quoted the late Singapore Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew as saying “in criminal law legislation, our priority is the security and well-being of law-abiding citizens rather than the rights of the criminal to be protected from incriminating evidence.” (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)