No EJKs? Senators say cops engaging in semantics
Isn’t the police killing of 17-year-old Kian Loyd delos Santos an extrajudicial killing (EJK), Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon asked on Sunday, scoffing at the claim of the Philippine National Police that there were no extrajudicial killings (EJK) in President Duterte’s war on drugs.
Senators Grace Poe and Bam Aquino said the police were “playing with pure semantics” and “hiding” behind the government’s definition of EJK, as the recent Senate inquiry into alleged extrajudicial killings came up with findings that contradicted the statement made by the PNP on Friday.
Commenting on the finding of a recent Social Weather Stations survey that 73 percent of Filipinos feared they could become victims of EJKs, Chief Supt. Dionardo Carlos, spokesperson for the PNP, said there were no such killings in the police crackdown on drugs.
Just one ‘possible EJK’
Carlos said there was only one “possible EJK” — the slaying of Catanduanes journalist Larry Que in December 2016, for which the provincial governor, Joseph Cua, PO1 Vincent Tacorda and several others had been charged.
He said the case had yet to be confirmed as EJK by the PNP Task Force Usig.
More than 3,800 people have been killed by police since Mr. Duterte launched his war on drugs after taking office in June last year.
In addition, more than 2,000 have been killed by unknown assailants, who rights groups suspect are hired guns working for the police or are policemen themselves.
In a radio interview on Sunday, Drilon said he did not think people believed the PNP statement.
“Isn’t [the killing] of Kian delos Santos an EJK? … What is clear is that 4,000 [drug suspects] died, including Carl (Angelo) Arnaiz and Kian,” he said, referring to the two teenagers who, according to witnesses, were forced to their knees and then shot dead by Caloocan policemen in September.
Drilon said the PNP was confusing the people, likening the organization to Joseph Goebbels, the German minister of propaganda during World War II.
Goebbels “once said that if you tell a lie a few times, it is still a lie, but if you repeat the lie 1,000 times, the people might believe you,” Drilon said.
Told that Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar had also said there were no EJKs because in the first place there were no judicial killings in the Philippines, Drilon said it was up to Filipinos to judge Andanar’s statement.
Drilon said the people would not believe the lies of propagandists.
Poe slammed the PNP for resorting to semantics.
“Based alone on the facts established in recent Senate hearings and coupled with the words of encouragement and accolade given by the highest authorities to the concerned PNP personnel involved before and after every drug operation contradict such outrageous claim,” Poe said in a text message.
“These dubious operations, which are invariably dubbed as ‘buy-bust,’ are actually warrantless raids from where I see them, and many victims are shown to have been killed execution-style,” she said.
Aquino said the PNP could hide behind the government definition of EJK but it was clear that the questioned killings were carried out by police during drug operations and by vigilante groups.
“If no EJK happened with Carl, Kian and Reynaldo (de Guzman) and many more people who were killed in drug operations, then what do you call [these killings], murder?” Aquino said.
De Guzman, 14, was Arnaiz’s companion on the night he was killed. The boy’s body was fished out of a creek in Nueva Ecija province with multiple stab wounds.
Police officers who had carried out unlawful killings had approached the Catholic Church for protection so that they could testify in an investigation into the extrajudicial killings.
Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), disclosed the officers’ plea for protection on Oct. 2 and said the Church would grant the request but would not influence the policemen’s testimony.
Andanar dared the CBCP on Sunday to produce evidence and file cases against erring policemen.
“Look for evidence and cases since that is your only concern. Go to the Napolcom (National Police Commission), the PNP and file charges,” Andanar said, referring to the CBCP.
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