Pay-for-kill report only for the movies, says Duterte
President Duterte’s office rejected allegations on Thursday by two senior police officers in a Reuters report that police received cash rewards for executing drug suspects, while the most high-profile critic of the president backed the officers’ claims.
“There is no truth in the allegation that there is a coordinated effort to kill drug suspects,” the president’s office said in a written reply to questions from Reuters. “The so-called officers interviewed must be living movie scenes.”
Sen. Leila de Lima, who was arrested in February on drug charges after leading a Senate probe into President Duterte’s drug war, however said that the allegations by the two officers had revealed “the ugly and disturbing truth of what has become” of the police force.
De Lima, who claims she is the target of a political vendetta, said a recent Social Weather Stations (SWS) showing an 11-point drop in the president’s public satisfaction rating indicated that more people were slowly realizing the folly of the drug war.
“This means more of our people are now waking up to the truth that the means of President Duterte in fighting the drug problem is wrong,” she said. “Summary killing of suspected drug offenders irrespective of their guilt, is absolutely wrong, hence, unacceptable. It is against the laws of men and of God.”
She stressed that former assassins Edgardo Matobato and Arturo Lascañas have already come out and “told us the truth about the DDS (Davao Death Squad).”
“The cash rewards for the assailants and the planting of handguns and drugs on the slain suspect are the very characteristics of the nightmare called DDS. The DDS, in its monstrous form, has simply been transplanted from a local kingdom to the national sphere. It’s now a nationwide plague,” she said.
De Lima said the Reuters story was “not fiction” but “real.”
In a Reuters report published on Tuesday, the two officers said Philippine National Police (PNP) officers carried out most of the killings they have long blamed on vigilantes.
One of the men, a retired intelligence officer, authored an unpublished 26-page report that provides granular detail on the alleged methods deployed in the drug war, as well as the campaign’s masterminds and perpetrators. The report, which said it is based on the accounts of 17 serving and former officers, does not contain any documentary evidence.
But the president’s office said there was “no such report,” adding that the police were “not in the business of hiring assassins.” It also called on the two officers to make their complaints publicly and under oath.
PNP chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa said the Reuters story was unfair, and challenged the unnamed officers to come forward.
“Let them come out and I will speak to them. I’ll answer their allegations point by point,” Dela Rosa said. “Don’t hide under the skirt of the media. Using the media to harm our organization is very unfair.”
He said the officers might have gripes against the police leadership, or were removed because of drugs.
“That’s very unfair. How will I explain that to the policemen who died in the war on drugs? How will I explain that to their children, their wife, or parents?” he said.
Thousands of people, mostly drug users and small-time dealers, have been killed since the president took office almost 10 months ago.
About a third of the victims were shot by officers in self defense during antidrug operations. Human rights groups believe many of the remaining two thirds were killed by paid assassins cooperating with the police or by police themselves, disguised as vigilantes.
One of the officers, an active-duty police commander, also said that officers planted drugs and guns at the scene of deadly narcotics busts.
Sen. Panfilo Lacson, a former national police chief, said that unless Reuters identified the two police officers and they could provide “convincing proof of their allegations,” he would dismiss the report as “gossip.”
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.