Stop the killings–Leila
Sen. Leila de Lima called for an end to rising vigilante killings of drug suspects on Tuesday as she hit out at President Duterte’s allies for what she claimed as a coordinated effort to sully her name over her fierce stand against the bloody campaign.
In a privilege speech, an emphatic De Lima lamented the “dehumanization” over the drug war, noting that Filipinos wake up to a daily breakfast of gore since President Duterte assumed power.
“We cannot wage the war against drugs with blood. We will be trading drug addiction with another more malevolent kind of addiction,” De Lima said, noting that the country seemed to be spiraling into “impunity, fear and, ultimately, utter and complete inhumanity.”
“This is the compulsion for more killing, killings that have now included the innocent,” she stressed.
Find another way
The lawmaker, a former justice secretary and head of the country’s rights commission, said she would begin an investigation into the drug deaths later this month. She scored the “cardboard” or “do-it-yourself justice,” or the practice by vigilantes of leaving a sign branding the slain victims as drug pushers or addicts.
“Impunity, once unleashed, has no boundaries,” said De Lima, who chairs the Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights. “Drugs destroy lives, but we need not destroy lives to destroy drugs.”
De Lima appealed on the government to “find another way”, with the public now desensitized with images of the dead.
She also called on police to follow the law, and criticized the common excuse that a drug suspect in custody was shot and killed because he tried to wrest an officer’s gun.
CBCP backs de Lima’s call
“We are aware of incidents of police rubouts. We know about the shortcuts taken by some law enforcers in the guise of self-defense. The use of force, it appears in some cases, may not be necessary, or, if necessary, was not proportional,” she said.
Vigilantes also appear to be “matching with vigor the killings” attributed to the police, De Lima said, noting that these suspects, until now, remain faceless.
Among those in the gallery was Chito Gascon, chair of the Commission on Human Rights, who backed the senator’s call for a legislative inquiry into the killings.
The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) backed De Lima’s call, and on Tuesday urged police to respect the dignity of human life amid the spate of killings.
Balanga bishop Ruperto Santos raised the alarm over the hundreds of slain suspects the past month, with the Inquirer’s own “kill list” recording 465 deaths since President Duterte assumed office on June 30.
De Lima hits back
The Philippine National Police, on the other hand, placed the number of killed suspects in its antinarcotics campaign at 402 since July 1.
“We must remember always that every human life counts. Every human being is a child of God. In fighting crime and in maintaining peace and order we must not forget respect for life,” said Santos, who heads the CBCP’s Episcopal Commission for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People.
“We have to look at the people behind the numbers,” he said, urging the government to establish sufficient rehabilitation facilities for drug dependents and pushers who have turned themselves in.
“Will there be justice for those who were killed? Human treatment for those who surrendered? Rehabilitation for those who seek a second chance?” Santos said.
De Lima also called out the President’s men—House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, Solicitor General Jose Calida, and Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre—for accusing her of coddling drug convicts allegedly allowing them to operate from inside the national penitentiary during her time as justice chief.
She said lies have been spread against her through propaganda and misinformation, including circulation of manipulated photos and videos.
In particular, she scored Alvarez for the “blatant break” of inter-parliamentary courtesy in initiating an investigation against her.
“I hope they won’t judge me too quickly, put a cardboard on me and wrap me in packing tape,” De Lima said.
Cayetano defends campaign
De Lima refused an interpellation by Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano, who ran and lost the vice presidency as President Duterte’s running mate in May.
Cayetano, however spoke on his own, and warned De Lima against making accusations without offering proof.
“I never heard him say ‘kill the defenseless’,” Cayetano said of the president.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.