‘Deeply concerned’ CHR probes minor’s death in Laguna drug ops
MANILA, Philippines — The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) is looking into the killing of a 16-year-old boy and his companion, a drug suspect, who police officers claimed fought back while they were serving an arrest warrant in Biñan City, Laguna province, last week.
In a statement, the CHR on Monday said it was “deeply concerned” about the death of Johndy Maglinte, 16, the latest minor to be killed in the Duterte administration’s antidrug campaign which is now under scrutiny by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for alleged crimes against humanity.
“We shall be conducting our own independent probe [of] this incident to pursue the truth behind [it] … and, more importantly, in pursuit of justice should it be proven that a human rights violation was perpetrated by the police,” CHR spokesperson Jacqueline de Guia said.
Police said Maglinte and his companion, Antonio Dalit, shot it out with the lawmen who were trying to serve the arrest warrant against Dalit on drug charges under Republic Act No. 9165 on June 16.
Dalit, 40, was said to be on the list of Top 10 Most Wanted by the Laguna police.
Two .38-caliber revolvers found at the scene belonged to Maglinte and Dalit, police said. Fifty grams of “shabu” (crystal meth) in sachets worth P340,000, a weighing scale, drug paraphernalia and P3,500 cash were also recovered.
De Guia, however, noted that Maglinte’s live-in partner—also a minor—told several reporters that Johndy had witnessed Dalit’s shooting in Biñan’s Barangay Canlalay. According to the partner, witnesses saw the policemen handcuff Maglinte and made him to lie face-down in the mud before he was killed.
Philippine National Police chief Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar has ordered the 10 officers involved in the incident, led by Laguna intelligence chief Police Capt. Fernando Credo, to be placed on restrictive custody pending an investigation.
In interviews with reporters, Maglinte’s aunt, Nylla, insisted that the boy was wrongly accused and that he did not even know how to use a gun.
She cited witnesses’ accounts that Maglinte had seen Dalit being gunned down by the policemen. They caught the boy when he tried to run away and handcuffed him.
He was reportedly heard pleading with the officers not to kill him as they shot him.
“I just want justice to be served for my nephew. Whether he had done something wrong or not, they should not have killed him. He begged for them to spare his life, but they still killed him brutally,” Nylla said.
Sen. Panfilo Lacson on Monday called on the PNP to speed up the implementation of its program on the use of body cameras for field officers following the “mess” stirred by the killing of a minor in Laguna.
“The killing of a minor in a recent PNP drug bust operation and the subsequent ‘he says, she says’ conflicting versions of the story should prod the PNP to fast-track the procurement of more body cameras and require all their personnel deployed in field operations,” Lacson said in a statement.
“[The use of body cameras] will be a major asset to our law enforcers, as well as improve protection of civilians against police abuses,” he said. “It will help in evidence-gathering and will serve as a deterrent to abuse by lawmen.”
Lacson also expressed hope that the Supreme Court would issue guidelines and protocols on the use of the body cameras based on established jurisprudence that defines “reasonable expectation of privacy test.”
In a ruling, the Supreme Court held that in order to determine whether a violation of the right to privacy of a person had been committed, courts must ascertain “whether a person has a reasonable expectation of privacy and whether the expectation has been violated.”
“Either way, the policeman committing an abuse in the exercise of his duties, as well as the crime offender cannot use the ‘right to privacy’ as their defense since either of them will fail the test,” Lacson said.
Apart from the Maglinte case, CHR spokesperson De Guia called on the government to “speed up” its own investigations of alleged extrajudicial killings linked to the drug war after former ICC chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda sought judicial authorization to probe the alleged crimes committed in the five-year campaign.
“It is to the best interest of the government as well to demonstrate that lapses are firmly and urgently addressed and that reforms are also underway to allay concerns of the international community on the effectiveness of our domestic justice and accountability mechanisms,” she said.
Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay said these continuing deaths even after Bensouda’s announcement were proof that domestic mechanisms for justice were ineffective.
“These indicate that the Philippine government is insincere in genuinely taking steps to stop the killings and in rendering justice. The UNHRC (United Nations Human Rights Council) should act decisively by undertaking an independent investigation, as more lives are put at greater risk,” Palabay said.
Interior Secretary Eduardo Año on Monday rated “nine out of 10” President Duterte’s antidrug campaign, saying it had managed to take down narcopoliticians or government officials with links to the illegal drug trade.
Drug war ‘success’
In an interview at Teleradyo, Año noted that the number of barangays affected by the drug menace had been considerably reduced.
“We started at almost 90 percent of barangays having peddlers of illegal drugs. And we have cleared almost 19,000 of these barangays and we are continuing efforts to clear the others,” he pointed out.
“We were able to establish antidrug abuse councils at the provincial, municipal, city and barangay levels,” he added.
According to Año, the government has pursued a complete approach in addressing the country’s problem on illegal drugs.
“It’s only now that our operations against illegal drugs is encompassing, whole-of-nation. Even civil society organizations, private citizens are involved … Up to the barangay level, you can feel that efforts are complete, addressing both demand and supply,” he said.
“Before it was all law enforcement operations. Now we focused on addressing demand and we have set up rehabilitation centers in regions, provinces, cities and barangays.”
—WITH REPORTS FROM JEANNETTE I. ANDRADE AND MELVIN GASCON
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