De Lima calls for inquiry into spate of drug killings
MANILA, Philippines — Senator Leila de Lima has sought a congressional inquiry into the lengthening list of drug suspects killed in police operations, saying even those tagged in crime should still be accorded due process.
In an interview Thursday afternoon, the former Justice Secretary said she will file a resolution to initiate a legislative investigation into the spate of killings seen after the election of President Duterte, known for his merciless stance against the drug trade.
Duterte has many times said “I will kill” those who will destroy the country and its youth by peddling drugs.
“We have to look into that in aid of legislation. The killings are on the rise, and there are just tell-tale signs of summary executions in a number of them,” said De Lima, also formerly chair of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR).
Asked what could happen if the deaths would remain unchecked, De Lima said: “Killing fields tayo. Violence will breed violence.”
As justice chief, De Lima had pursued an investigation into extrajudicial killings in Mr. Duterte’s long-time turf, Davao City, including the former mayor’s alleged involvement.
The investigation fizzled after the self-confessed hitman left the custody of the Department of Justice’s witness protection program, leaving investigators without a source for corroborating evidence.
De Lima said her proposed inquiry would seek to come up with legislation addressing operating procedure of law enforcement agencies such as the Philippine National Police and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency.
While admiring Mr. Duterte’s strong-willed approach to stifle the drug trade, De Lima said due process must still be observed.
Along the same line, she said Mr. Duterte’s “name and shame campaign” against the police generals allegedly involved in the drug trade could have a downside, saying their identification even before an investigation could subject them to trial by publicity.
“There’s a violation of due process there. There’s still presumption of innocence, and, therefore, they’re entitled to be heard. They should not be subjected to trial by publicity,” she said. JE
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