Opposition senators call for unity vs gov’t brutal drug war
Opposition senators urged the Senate on Saturday to unite and stand against the spate of killings during anti-illegal drug operations over the past week, including the death of a 17-year-old student in Caloocan City.
In a statement sent to the media, the Senate Minority Bloc called on their fellow senators to “stand in solidarity against the senseless killings” brought about by the government’s bloody crackdown on illegal drugs.
“Sobra na. Maling-mali na talaga to. (This is enough. This is so wrong.) I cannot, in conscience, let this pass. The senators should have a united stand to stop this,” Senator Antonio Trillanes IV said.
Trillanes said he will call for an all-senators caucus on Tuesday to discuss the “alarming resurgence of drug-related killings by the Philippine National Police (PNP).”
The senators’ statement came after teenager Kian Loyd delos Santos was killed for allegedly fighting against the police that was conducting anti-drug operations in Libis Baisa, Barangay 160, Caloocan City. However, a CCTV footage showed Delos Santos being manhandled by plainclothes policemen 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 has marked the deadliest period of President Rodrigo Duterte’s brutal war against drugs.
Senator Benigno “Bam” Aquino IV said the government should rethink its anti-illegal drug campaign strategy as people from poor families remain as casualties while those involved in high-profile drug cases are “accorded due process.”
“I plan to file a resolution kasi nakababahala na talaga iyong news reports (because the news reports are becoming alarming),” Aquino said.
Senator Franklin Drilon echoed Aquino’s views, saying: “We cannot tolerate the alarming police impunity in the country. We need to investigate these killings of alleged drug suspects, including the death of a Grade 11 student, in police operations.”
Drilon earlier questioned Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II at the 2018 budget hearing for their failure to investigate extra judicial killings, with only 37 of about 4,000 deaths related to the anti-drug campaign were investigated.
Senator Francis Pangilinan said that the poor are continuously targeted while more than P6-billion worth of illegal drugs can slip past the Bureau of Customs (BOC).
“Ang ugat ng problema sa droga ay doon nakita sa pagpuslit ng tone-toneladang shabu sa BOC ng mga sindikato kasabwat ang mga opisyal ng gobyerno (The root of the problem is the sneaking of the tons of shabu in BOC by drug syndicates in connivance with government officials),” Pangilinan said.
For her part, Senator Risa Hontiveros urged the government to stop the killings, saying the Duterte administration cannot kill its way out of the drug problem.
“We refuse to accept these killings as normal,” Hontiveros said.
Meanwhile, detained Senator Leila de Lima criticized Duterte for praising the deadly Bulacan raids, which killed 32 people. JPV