Hontiveros on drug war cop’s guilty verdict: ‘Partial victory, but not the end’
MANILA, Philippines— “Yet again, this is a partial victory, but not the end.”
This was how opposition Senator Risa Hontiveros reacted on Tuesday after a dismissed Caloocan cop was found guilty by a regional trial court for the 2017 killings of teenagers Carl Angelo Arnaiz and Reynaldo de Guzman.
Navotas Regional Trial Court Branch 287 on Monday sentenced former Police Officer 1 Jefrey Sumbo Perez to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua or 40 years in jail without eligibility for parole.
His co-accused, PO1 Ricky Arquilita, was absolved of liability after he died in detention in April 2019 due to suspected hepatitis.
Though “laudable,” Hontiveros said it should not have taken more than five years for the country’s justice system to administer a sentence against Perez.
“There are tens of thousands more families like Carl’s and Kulot’s awaiting their day in court. No one should have to wait for five years for justice to be served,” she lamented in a statement.
“Like I said in 2017, when I was protecting the witnesses in Kian delos Santos’s investigation, no victim of state violence should have to feel that the law is not behind them,” she said.
Delos Santos was killed in a police operation in Caloocan, also in 2017. Three policemen were convicted for his murder.
Dismayed by the slow resolution of cases of alleged extrajudicial killings in the country, Hontiveros expressed hopes that the International Criminal Court (ICC) investigation could help expedite justice for drug war victims.
“International cooperation can only expedite justice for thousands of Filipinos. ICC’s help must be welcome and necessary,” she then said, reiterating her call for the administration to cooperate with the ICC and to rejoin the Rome Statute as soon as possible.
In 2018, former President Rodrigo Duterte announced the Philippines’ withdrawal from the ICC where he and his allies have been accused of committing crimes against humanity in relation to their bloody war on drugs.
“We continue to demand a full accounting of the extrajudicial killings under the previous administration. Glimmers of hope are are so welcome but not enough when the system punishes only couriers and foot soldiers,” Hontiveros went on.
“We must hold those truly responsible accountable for taking people’s lives away w/ their hands. It is time to stop emboldening perpetrators. The toxic culture of impunity of the previous administration must stop pervading our society. They are not scot-free,” she added.