Press Release
August 22, 2017


The minority bloc at the Senate has called for an inquiry on the recent spate of operations by the police against drug suspects that have led to the killing of at least 80 people in the past week, including 17-year-old student Kian Lloyd Delos Santos.

"There is a need not only attain justice for Kian and other victims of abuse by the State in the hands of our law enforcers and authorities, but also to reassess and change the strategy of the administration's drug war, which unjustly targets the poor and the helpless while failing to address the root causes of the drug menace in the country," according to House Resolution No. 473 filed by Senators Paolo Benigno "Bam" Aquino IV, Leila De Lima, Franklin Drilon, Risa Hontiveros, Francis Pangilinan, and Antonio Trillanes IV.

"It is high time to end police abuse during drug raids. The police should be reminded of their mandate to protect the citizens, especially the helpless and the poor," Senator Bam Aquino said. Senator Antonio Trillanes IV stressed that the investigation should be aimed not only at purging police ranks of personnel implicated in the killing and abuse of drug suspects, but also at providing accountability for those found erring.

"Relieving certain personnel without making them suffer the consequences of their action will not make a dent," Trillanes said.

The past week saw at least 80 people dead in a series of raids in Caloocan, Malabon, Navotas and Valenzuela and contiguous cities in northern Metro Manila as part of President Rodrigo Duterte's brutal war on drugs. Since July 1, 2016, security forces and "unidentified gunmen" have killed at least 7,000 suspected drug users and dealers, including 3,116 killings by police, and 31 children, the resolution said.

In simultaneous operations in Caloocan last 16 August 2017, 12 people were killed, including Kian, who was found dead in the site of the encounter, lying face down in fetal position, with three gunshot wounds, one to his back and two to his head.

Based on initial investigations, about a dozen members of the Police Community Precinct (PCP) 7 led by PO2 Arnes Oares were conducting Oplan Galugad operations around 8 p.m. in Libis Baisa, Barangay 160, when Kian allegedly fired at them with a 45-caliber pistol.

Several witnesses have attested that Kian did not have a gun and did not resist arrest. A witness interviewed by The Manila Bulletin said she saw Kian being punched and slapped by four policemen who were not in uniform that night but were all armed with guns. CCTV footage also showed men in civilian attire dragging a young man believed to be Kian before he was shot in a dark alley, the resolution said.

"We cannot tolerate the alarming police impunity in the country. We need to investigate these killings of alleged drug suspects including a Grade 11 student in police operations," Senator Frankin Drilon said.

The case of Kian as well as numerous accounts from witnesses and survivors of previous anti-drug police operations defy claims that the targets were killed because they fought back against the police, according to the resolution.

"Despite the alarming number of deaths resulting from the police operations, top government authorities have expressed their full support for the police force, with the Chief of Police justifying the high death toll as 'normal' given the scope of operations, and the President himself saying that evidence could be planted to support police claims," it added.

"A war on drugs that only sees killing as a solution is not right. We hope that the Administration shifts its direction on its war on drugs. Let us look at a more holistic approach that acknowledges that this is not just a problem of the police, but also a problem of health and poverty," Senator Kiko Pangilinan said.

Senator Leila de Lima, meanwhile, appealed to the President to categorically order the police force to stop the killings.

"Any other way to try to appease the growing outrage sparked by the killing of Kian and other recent incidents of summary execution would be insufficient as it is hypocritical," said De Lima.

The senators lamented that the past incidents have demonstrated "an apparent pattern of deception, misconduct, and abuse by the police conducting the drug raids," which take away from suspects their right to due process and claiming innocent lives.

"Unless there is an immediate honest-to-goodness investigation into these killings, the already long list of grave rights violations linked to the drug war will only continue to grow," the senators said.

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