Lawyers group tells SC: Tokhang reports are ‘cut and paste’
MANILA, Philippines – A police officer killed three drug suspects in Sta. Ana, Manila because he knew his life was in danger when all the suspects aimed their guns at him.
“Tang ina pulis ka (Bitch, you’re a cop),” one of the suspects yelled as he pointed his gun at the police officer. The suspects’ two companions also drew their guns and aimed at him. Sensing that his life was in danger, the police officer drew his gun and fired at the suspects. All three were killed. One of them, Jefferson Bunan, was a scholar who dreamed of becoming a police officer.
Such a scene was not from a movie or television thriller but from one of the police operations in Sta. Ana, Manila on July 18, 2016.
The Sta. Ana operation was among the police anti-crime missions studied by the Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG), the report of which was submitted to the Supreme Court.
FLAG studied the 22 police operations, including the one that killed Bunan, and found one thing in common: the police tendency to “cut and paste” reports to describe each and every possible operation.
Each report mentions the target suspect or suspects. The police are doing a case build-up and once established and validated supposedly based on the information they have received, possible police operation will be conducted for the suspects’ “immediate apprehension and neutralization.”
True enough, FLAG said the targets identified in the reports were all killed. They were all killed inside their houses. They all had firearms and fought back or “nanlaban.” Only one police officer sustained minor injury and of the 22 police operations, only one has a warrant issued by a court.
Of the 22 operations, 19 were buy-bust operations, during which the suspects “sensing that he was dealing with a police [deep cover] and not the real drug buyer pulled out his handgun and fired shots at the police poseur-buyer.”
Also common among the victims, as quoted from police reports, they all uttered “putang ina mo pulis ka pala” [bitch, you are a police officer!] before drawing their guns and firing shots at the police officers.
Leo Geluz who was killed on Jan. 25, 2017 shouted “putang ina mo pulis ka pala papatayin kita [bitch, you are a police officer. I will kill you!] before he drew his gun and fired at the cops.
Emelio Blanco (killed Nov. 30, 2016), Ryan Eder (killed Aug. 28, 2016), Jomar Manaois, Mark Anthony and Jefferson Bunuan, (killed July 18, 2016), Willie Ternora (killed Sept. 30, 2016), Rex Aparri (killed Sept. 27, 2016), all uttered the same words before they were killed, FLAG lawyers found out after studying the police post-operation reports.
In all the 22 police operations, FLAG told the Supreme Court that nothing would indicate that there was an authority to operate/ask coordination with the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) and a pre-operation report which was a requirement in all buy-bust operations.
FLAG and the Center for International Law (CenterLaw) are petitioners before the high court which sought to nullify the Philippine National Police Command Memorandum Circular (CMC) No. 16 – 2016 or Oplan Double Barrel. The CMC gave the policemen authority to kill drug suspects. It was issued during the time of PNP Chief, now Senator Ronald dela Rosa.
Petitioners also assailed the legality of the Department of the Interior and Local Government Memorandum Circular 2017-112, which establishes a system of anonymous reporting of suspected criminals, for allegedly violating the right to due process of law and to be presumed innocent.
The high court has required the government to provide FLAG and CenterLaw documents related to the government’s war on drugs. The government through the Office of the Solicitor General claimed they have complied but petitioners said the documents were either incomplete or not related to the war on drugs.
At least for the documents that are related and they were able to open, FLAG said nothing would show that there was an established vetting process to show that a reported name was indeed involved in drugs.
“The numerous drug list submitted by respondents do not indicate how the names were included in the list, what kind of validation was conducted before the names were put on the list, and what kind of evidence supports their being listed. It does not even indicate the source that can be consulted to verify the correctness of the list,” FLAG said.
The group added that there is also no indication that an investigation was conducted to determine the claims of the police officers that the suspects were killed because they defied arrest or “nanlaban.”
“The data submitted by the PNP, however, do not indicate that even one operative who admitted to killing a suspect in a police operation has been administratively punished or criminally prosecuted in court. This bolsters petitioners’ argument that the War on Drugs has spawned police impunity and done away with accountability,” FLAG told the high court in its supplemental memorandum.
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