Press Release
December 8, 2016


While proving that there have been thousands of killings with impunity taking place every year in the country over at least the last two decades, the Senate investigation showed that there is no evidence to show that there is a State-sponsored policy to commit killings in the eradication of illegal drugs.

This was contained in the 100-page Committee Report submitted Wednesday by Senator Richard J. Gordon after presiding over three of the six hearings conducted by the Committee on Justice and Human Rights jointly with the Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs. He also pointed out that it is time for the government to immediately move to vigorously investigate and report also immediately on the results of the investigation since the absence of clear and quick action to resolve such killings has resulted in an apathetic, passive, and indifferent citizenry who blame the government for such inaction.

Gordon added that at the same time, the police, who are in charge of crime prevention and law enforcement, seem to be in total disregard of the need to continuously improve the solution rate for killings.

"Many killings with impunity through the years up to the present have not been resolved by the police, leaving our people feeling unprotected, insecure, fearful, and cynical about the ability of the police to protect and serve them. There is an urgent need to undertake reforms in law enforcement and strengthen the criminal justice system to fortify the rule of law," he said in the report.

The report also states that the evidence presented to the Committee failed to prove the existence of the Davao Death Squad, much less provide a direct link to President Rodrigo Duterte, then Davao City mayor.

Although the committee did not find that President Duterte authorized recent and rampant killings, Gordon nevertheless found it necessary to advise him that while he has the country's best interest at heart when he waged the war against illegal drugs and criminality, Duterte should seek to epitomize a man of the law, and be an exemplary role model.

"The President needs to be mindful of his role as head of State and be careful with his words, avoid inappropriate statements lest they be construed as policies of the State. There may also be accusations of tolerance hurled against him because of the overwhelming support he gives to the police, manifested by his colorful language against drug pushers, may be perceived as a condonation of the violations of human rights and due process that the police are committing, in the guise of putting an end to the drug menace," he said.

In line with this, Gordon also warned that the immutable and universal principles that respect human rights must be instituted in law enforcement. Thus, the police and other law enforcement officers, through Project "Tokhang" or any similar program, must be admonished and refrained from urging "surrenderees" to sign "voluntary surrender certificates" in violation of their Constitutional rights, particularly the rights of the accused.

The report was very emphatic that in order to effectively put an end to the killings with impunity, people must be part of the process of change; the people themselves should be empowered to help transform their respective areas into "drug-free" neighborhoods where their families may safely reside.

It also pressed the need for key measures such as amendments to existing laws, creation of new laws, a more effective reporting system to ensure fast action on investigations so that crime investigation and deterrence is more effective.

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