Pimentel: Mounting death toll on drug war necessitates Senate probe
Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III raised an alarm on Saturday over the mounting death toll in the government’s bloody war on drugs, which appears to be in its all-time high since President Rodrigo Duterte launched his controversial campaign.
“Syempre nakakabahala ‘yan, nakakaalarma hindi lamang dahil sa may nabiktima na binatilyo pero dahil sa merong namamatay (Of course, it’s getting alarming not just because a young man was killed, but because there are people getting killed),” Pimentel said in an interview with DWIZ Radio.
Pimentel welcomed his fellow senators’ proposals to launch a new Senate investigation into the killings related to the government’s anti-drug war, particularly on how the Philippine National Police (PNP) implements its anti-illegal drug campaign Oplan Double Barrel and whether it observes the standard operating procedures during operations.
“I-assume na lang namin na kailangan naming tingnan, wag na nating hintayin na internal affairs, DOJ, tingnan na rin po ng Senado yan dahil maraming senador ang nananawagan na silipin na itong Oplan Double Barrel Reloaded, paano ba implementasyon niyan,” he said.
(I will assume that we need to look into it and not wait for the PNP’s Internal Affairs Service, the Department of Justice to investigate the matter. Because a lot of senators have been calling for an investigation, the Senate will look into Oplan Double Barrel Reloaded, and how it is being implemented.)
Pimentel’s statement came after Kian Loyd delos Santos, a 17-year-old student, was killed for allegedly fighting against the police during an anti-drug operations in Libis Baisa, Barangay 160, Caloocan City. However, a CCTV footage showed Delos Santos being manhandled by plainclothes police officers shortly before he was found dead.
Kian was one of at least 80 people killed in simultaneous anti-illegal drug operations by the police in Metro Manila and Bulacan over the past week. The series of incidents marked the deadliest period of Duterte’s brutal war on drugs.
Pimentel, a staunch Duterte ally, had defended the bloody campaign, which has been described by human-rights activists as a “human-rights calamity.” In September last year, he shrugged off criticisms from the international community, saying that the Philippine government was merely “enforcing the law.”
The Senate President also underscored the need for the police officers who conducted the operations to detail the incident and explain how the victims fought back.
“Kasi lahat yan kung namatay dahil sa police operation, dapat mayroong report. So daanan natin ngayon yan, isa-isa kada folder, makikita natin kung pare-pareho ang salita na ginagamit doon ay kalokohan na yon,” he said.
(All those who died during police operations should have a report. Let us go through it, each folder, and if we see all the words used are all the same, then it’s foolishness.)
“Pero tingnan natin kung ano ang detalye kasi hindi pwedeng conclusion lamang na patay tapos lalagyan lang nila ng stamp pad na nanlaban. Hindi pupwede, papaano nanlaban? Kailangan ikwento nung nakapatay na pulis, ikwento niya,” he added.
(Let us see the details of each case because the cause of their deaths should not simply be of retaliation. How did they fight back? The police should explain, narrate how he killed the victim.)
Pimentel said that the probe may be handled by the Senate Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs, which is headed by Sen. Panfilo Lacson.
The Senate majority will hold a caucus on Sunday to discuss the issues being raised by the senators, Pimentel said.
The Senate has already belied the existence of extrajudicial killings, as well as the Davao Death Squad, which was linked to Duterte when he was still mayor of Davao City.
In December last year, 11 senators signed a joint report of the Senate committees on justice and public order, which found no proof that state-sponsored killings exist in the country. Lacson was one of the signatories. JPV
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