De Lima blasts Palace, police officials for twisting EJK definition
Sen. Leila de Lima blasted on Monday Palace and police officials, as well as Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano, for muddling an administrative order that she drafted when she was justice secretary – the same order that they were now using to claim zero extrajudicial killings (EJKs) in the ongoing war on drugs.
De Lima was referring to AO No.35, which was issued by President Benigno Aquino III. She made it clear that the order “did not seek an all-encompassing definition of EJK.”
In a statement, De Lima said: “[The AO] defined EJK for the purposes of the objective for which it was issued, the creation of an inter-agency committee that would investigate the killings of activists and media personnel which were the prevalent cases of EJKs during the Arroyo administration.”
She said she was the one who drafted the AO and it was “farthest from my mind” to say the order was only for purposes of the then interagency committee on the killings of activists and journalists to make an investigation “and not for purposes of freeing public officials from accountability for state-sanctioned murder.”
De Lima was miffed that the Philippine National Police and Malacañang claimed there are zero EJKs because AO 35 – issued in 2012 – defined EJK as covering only members of cause-oriented militant organizations and media.
Presidential spokesperson Ernie Abella had said AO 35 defined EJKs as killings where “the victim was a member of, or affiliated with an organization to include political, environmental, agrarian, labor or similar causes; or an advocate of above-named causes; or a media practitioner or person(s) apparently mistaken or identified to be so.”
In her statement, De Lima said that Press Secretary Martin Andanar even went to say there could be no EJK in the country as it did not recognize judicial killing due to the abolition of the death penalty.
“They are making a fool of us,” the senator said.
She added that it would not be “not worthwhile” to engage the Palace in “this amateurish but perverse word games” – except that its officials were still “in control of government and the life of this country.”
“Secretaries Abella and Andanar, the PNP and, yes, Secretary Cayetano (the originator of the tactic in muddling AO35) can pretend that Duterte and his administration can get away with the 13,000 EJKs through wordplay. But they can pretend only for so long,” De Lima said.
She noted the big plunge in the trust and satisfaction ratings of the President in the latest Social Weather Station survey, which she attributed to the people’s “belief and fear that anyone of them or their loves can now be the victim of EJKs anytime.”
Meanwhile, Sen. Risa Hontiveros said those claiming zero EJKs had “zero-zero vision, zero conscience and zero tolerance for this kind of atrocious lie.”
Hontiveros said the case of 17-year-old Kian Lloyd de los Santos was a case of EJK. She also pointed out that the Senate had acknowledged the existence of EJKs, particularly the killing of Albuera Mayor Rolando Espinosa.
“The Senate also issued strongly-worded resolutions on the matter signed by both majority and minority senators,” Hontiveros said in a text message.
The President himself, she noted, also recognized the existence of EJKs when he declared a state of emergency in the country as he cited the growing number of EJKs as one of the reasons for making the declaration.
“If the PNP leadership wants to be a denier, it should at least be on the correct side of the fence,” Hontiveros said. “It should deny the President’s abusive and anti-poor war on drugs.” /atm
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