Press Release
October 18, 2016


Faithful to the general objective of Senate Resolution No. 9, we conducted a Senate Inquiry to look into the seemingly criminal disregard for the human rights of suspected drug users and sellers, and even those of innocent bystanders who happen to be in the vicinity where the police operations were conducted.

We note that upon assumption of office, President Rodrigo Duterte and Philippine National Police (PNP) Director General Ronald de la Rosa spoke of a violent campaign against drugs. The administration then proceeded to conduct very bloody and public operations which led to thousands being killed and hundreds of thousands surrendering for fear of their lives. This triggered a public scrutiny on the killings resulting from police operations and those carried out by vigilantes supposedly under the blanket of the war on drugs.

There were several pronouncements - from Senator Richard Gordon and the President himself - that the Senate inquiry did not uncover any evidence on the extrajudicial killings as being State-sponsored, or that the police rub-outs or killings in the course of police operations are part of an undeclared government policy of killing drug suspects. Not only are these pronouncements premature, but also, more importantly, the termination of the Senate EJK inquiry itself is premature.

The rest of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) witnesses are yet to be presented and questioned by the Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights. There is no thorough evaluation of the written submissions and documents by the Committee, especially those from the PNP, including the official policy papers on Operation Tokhang, spot reports of the so-called firefights between the police and the suspects that ended up in the death of the suspects, and the SOCO reports.

Moreover, the President and the PNP Chief have not been made to account for their pronouncements on the violence of the campaign against drugs. The President himself went so far as to guarantee presidential pardons to policemen who will be indicted for killing. Allies of the President are quick to dismiss their utterances as mere figures of speech meant to motivate our police force. However, the running death toll reveals that their words are taken not only as policy by the police and the local chief executives, they are taken as biblical mandate of their supporters to kill in the name of the campaign against drugs.

The premature pronouncements that the EJKs are not State-sponsored can only come from a total disregard of Edgar Matobato's testimony. Matobato's testimony showed that this same kind of State-sponsored or State-inspired EJKs was implemented by the President himself through a certain unit within the Davao City Police Office when he was Mayor of Davao City.

It is my submission that Matobato's testimony has legislative purpose. At the very least, he was able to show how a local chief executive can use the local police force and even casual employees to kill, extrajudicially, under the guise of fighting crimes. We cannot discount the testimony of Matobato simply because he happened to implicate the President. We cannot pre-terminate an inquiry simply because it seeks to uncover inconvenient truths.

The Senate, as an independent institution, must be able to send a strong message to the President and our police force that law and order must yield to human rights and that the strong arm of the law should equally apply against those who violate human rights as against those who commit drug-related crimes. To be able to do so, we need to probe further and be more thorough in evaluating the evidence before the Committee.

Speedy justice should not be hasty justice.

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