Press Release
August 17, 2017

Sen. Leila M. de Lima's Statement on DOJ/NBI's admission of not having a serious EJK investigation

In this morning's hearing on the proposed 2018 budget of the Department of Justice (DOJ) at the Senate, a glaring truth came out, which validated what some sectors, including myself, have been pointing out: no serious and prompt investigation of extrajudicial killings related to the drug war is being conducted by our relevant agencies.

DOJ Sec. Vitaliano Aguirre II boasted of having issued in February this year Department Order (DO) No. 120, which authorized the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to conduct investigations on cases of killings allegedly connected to the campaign against illegal drugs. However, on a very simple question posed by Sen. Franklin Drilon asking for an inventory and updates of these cases, and after much hesitation that necessitated a break during the hearing, the NBI and the DOJ admitted that they don't have such an inventory, and they just inform himself reported to the Senate that the NBI is only able to entertain 37 cases all over the country in a span of almost a year (from July 2016 to May 2017). This is shocking considering that, according also to the NBI, which is based supposedly on PNP data, the total number of alleged EJKs related to the drug war as of May this year (reckoned from July 1, 2016) is a little more than 4,000, with about 3,000 police killings and around 1,000 vigilante slays.

The cited figures raise questions. First, even if we are to accept the data coming from the PNP, the number of alleged EJKs as of April 2017 is already more than 7,000, and not just 4,000, as stated by the NBI. In an article in Rappler last April, it was mentioned that the PNP itself admitted that 2,555 killings occurred during police operations, while 3,603 are "deaths under investigation." However, even the 7,000 body count is doubtful. Some groups of human rights advocates and journalists already pegged the tally at around 12,000. But, whether the actual number is 4,000, or 7,000 or even 12,000, what is unacceptable and unconscionable is the fact that our lead investigative agency is just handling 37 EJK cases!

Malinaw pa sa sikat ng araw na walang seryoso at agarang imbestigasyong ginagawa sa mga kaso ng patayan sa sinasabing giyera kontra droga. Walang gumugulong na prosesong panlegal na magtitiyak ng pananagutan sa mga nagkasala at katarungan para sa mga biktima.

It is high time, I believe, that we seriously consider one of the suggestions in my Dissenting Report on the EJK probe by the Senate, where I called for the immediate creation of an independent and impartial commission to investigate the EJKs. I likewise urge that we support the move of the European Parliament to set up at the level of the UN Human Rights Council an international commission of inquiry.

Last July, I filed with the Office of the Ombudsman a consolidated criminal and administrative complaint against Secretary Aguirre. One of the causes of action I cited was the obvious failure of Secretary Aguirre and the DOJ to investigate and prosecute the large number of drug war-related EJKs. In that complaint, I mentioned that "[t]here is reliable information coming from the DOJ that respondent [Aguirre] himself has issued an illegal directive to the NPS [National Prosecution Service] that no public prosecutor is allowed to file a case against any law enforcement official enforcing the Administration's 'war on drugs', including cases of possible summary executions of drug suspects during the PNP anti-drug operations."

This is the reason why up to the present, and after more than 7,000 deaths, not a single case of PNP killing or "death under investigation" recorded by the PNP itself as drug-related killings, other than those cases exposed in the Senate EJK hearings, was ever investigated or prosecuted by the NBI and the NPS under respondent DOJ Secretary.

The admission of the DOJ/NBI in today's hearing only proves the truth of the criminal charge of non-prosecution of offenses I filed against Aguirre with the Ombudsman. Aguirre must be prosecuted accordingly.

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