CHR to probe Quezon drug killings
LUCENA CITY—The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) will look into cases of extrajudicial killings of suspected illegal drug traders in Quezon province, the agency’s top official in Southern Tagalog said on Tuesday.
From July 1 to 3, unidentified gunmen killed at least 13 men suspected to be drug traffickers in separate attacks in the cities of Lucena and Tayabas, and the towns of Pitogo, San Antonio, Tiaong, Candelaria, Sariaya, Pagbilao, Mauban, Lopez and Calauag.
On Monday, another victim, Angelito Maranan, 49, reportedly on the local police drug watch list, was shot and killed by a lone man in Candelaria.
President Duterte has promised a relentless campaign against illegal drugs, directing the Philippine National Police to rid the country of drug traders and other criminals. He also encouraged citizens to join the fight, even asking them to shoot drug traders if they resisted arrest.
In a text message, lawyer Jacqueline de Guia-de la Peña, CHR head in Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, Quezon), said she would to investigate these cases.
Board Member Racquel Mendoza, chair of the provincial board’s committee on justice and human rights, said she will invite police officials to brief the board about the situation.
“I will consult my fellow board members on our move. But I’m inclined to call Quezon police officials to enlighten us on the real situation [on the campaign against illegal drugs],” Mendoza said.
Her younger brother has been in jail due to drug pushing charges, she said.
“I condemn the spread and use of illegal drugs because our family had personal experience about its evil. But I’m also against extrajudicial killings of suspected criminals. We should all follow due process,” Mendoza said.
Lawyer Vicente Joyas, former national president of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, said the police should explain the circumstances behind the spate of extrajudicial killings in the province.
“President Duterte’s parameter in citizen’s arrest is clear—that [a] citizen can only shoot the suspect in case of resistance … and [this action would] put the citizen’s life in danger,” Joyas said.
He said police should arrest the suspects behind the executions. “The police should have the first opportunity in arresting [illegal drug] suspects because they have the list,” he said.
Joya said the police must also ensure that suspected drug pushers are arrested so they could secure important information on the operation of drug syndicates.
But a provincial official said those involved in illegal drugs deserved to die.
“They have long been a menace to society. Most of them had been in and out of jail but they still continued their illegal activities,” said the official, who declined to be identified in this report.
A Quezon municipal official agreed, saying he would accept the fate of those slain as long as their links to illegal drug trade had been confirmed.
“They all deserved to die to serve as a warning to others. This is the real change that people have long been waiting to happen,” the official said.
Senior Supt. Eugenio Paguirigan, police regional director, said his men also killed six other suspected drug traffickers in encounters from January to June.
He said 839 were arrested and at least P15 million worth of shabu (methamphetamine hydrochloride), marijuana and cocaine were seized.
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