Colmenares: There’s proof that EJKs are state-sponsored
MANILA, Philippines – Human rights workers and victims of the war against illegal drugs have proof that the alleged extrajudicial killings (EJKs) are state-sponsored or endorsed by the government itself, Bayan Muna chair Neri Colmenares said during a public inquiry conducted by the Commission on Human Rights on Monday.
“I think human rights defenders and the victims of human rights violations have laid down the basis and evidence that the killings are state-sponsored,” Colmenares, speaking partly in Filipino, told reporters on the sidelines of CHR inquiry.
“Besides direct evidence, we showed a pattern of evidence showing the government as responsible for the EJKs — such as when the government public vilifies the victims. Secondly, perpetrators committed the crime [killing] apparently without fear of the police,” he added.
Colmenares did not divulge what the specific pieces of evidence are, although he had previously mentioned these two types of evidence, albeit in a different scenario. It was during the attacks on farmers, human rights workers in the Negros island which was correlated to the communist insurgency.
The government has constantly denied accusations that any of the killings — which occur outside police operations — were carried out by law enforcers themselves. Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo insisted that the claims were only part of the left wing’s propaganda.
Sen. Ronald dela Rosa, former chief of the Philippine National Police, said that he would have his head cut off if any of the killings could be shown to be state-sponsored after the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) adopted a resolution calling for greater scrutiny of the drug war.
However, Colmenares said the “complete lack of interest on the part of the government to investigate or prosecute the perpetrators” was already a tell-tale sign of state-sponsored killings.
“Can you imagine, the government admitted to killing 5,526 people in police operations, at least drug suspects. But I can’t remember how many are facing cases[for the killings,” he said.
The war against drugs was one of President Rodrigo Duterte’s central themes in his rise to the presidency. According to authorities, 6,600 drug suspects have been killed in the administration’s drug war.
Several police officers were charged for irregularities in the conduct of operations, but as of now, only three have been convicted — PO3 Arnel Oares, PO1 Jeremias Pereda and PO1 Jerwin Cruz, who were convicted for summarily executing teenager Kian delos Santos in Caloocan last August 2017.
Still, Colmenares thinks it’s not impossible to change the approach towards drug suspects, even with a very popular administration and President.
“We are hoping the justice system will change,” he said. “I trust Filipino citizens, that we can change society for the better,” he said.
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