‘Kill everybody’: Be careful with words, CHR tells Duterte administration
MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) reminded the Duterte administration to be more responsible and careful with its words following a speech by President Rodrigo Duterte in which he said his order to Lt. Col. Jovie Espenido, now Bacolod City deputy police chief, was to “kill everybody” to rid Bacolod of drugs.
In a statement, CHR spokesperson Jacqueline de Guia said the commission wanted to remind the administration “to be mindful of its statement.”
The administration, the statement said, “should never encourage the police to transgress the law.” “There are mechanisms in place to hold them accountable for their actions,” it added.
Although the CHR statement, did not mention Duterte by name, its mention of the order given to Espenido apparently referred to Duterte’s remarks made in a speech on Thursday, Oct. 17, at the 45th Philippine Business Conference and Expo.
The CHR, said De Guia’s statement, was “concerned with the government’s remark emboldening police Lt. Col. Jovie Espenido” to “kill everybody in carrying out his anti-drug operations in Bacolod City.”
“Such words inciting arbitrary acts of violence by a state agent reinforce and tolerate impunity,” said the CHR statement. “This pronouncement should never be made to normalize violence in the country and to blatantly attack the right to life of individuals,” it added.
At his speech, Duterte said Espenido had been appointed to a ranking position in the Bacolod police force, as deputy chief for operations, because of the rampant drug trade in the city.
“Bacolod is badly hit (by illegal drugs) now. I placed Espenido there,” Duterte said. “I said, go there, you are free to kill everybody. Start killing there. Let’s both go to prison,” the President added.
Philippine National Police (PNP) spokesperson Brig. Gen. Bernard Banac insisted that the President’s words were just for emphasis.
“The PNP views it as putting emphasis on his campaign promise to eradicate illegal drugs,” Banac said.
De Guia said law enforcers must never use ‘extralegal processes’ in the campaign against drugs.
Police should always “adhere to their standard operating procedures and be respectful of human rights principles in fulfilling their sworn duty to serve and protect,” De Guia said.
“The commission hopes that these words would not translate into any policy directive that is violative of the government’s obligation to uphold and safeguard the life and dignity of everyone,” she said.
Duterte’s war on drugs — a central theme of his administration—has drawn criticisms for the killings of hundreds of suspects in what human rights groups said were cases of summary executions.
While police gave assurances that anti-drug operations were being done with regularity, some cases were found of police violating their own procedure manual. One example is the case of teenager Kian delos Santos, who was killed even as he was already raising his hands in surrender to police.
Three policemen found guilty of Kian’s murder were also found to have planted evidence on the slain teenager./TSB
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