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No proof of state-sponsored drug killings, Gordon says

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Senator Richard Gordon. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

Sen. Richard Gordon on Thursday said he found no proof to support allegations that the Duterte administration sanctioned extrajudicial killings in his bloody campaign to eliminate illegal drugs.

Speaking at a news conference after the close of hearings by the Senate justice committee, Gordon said he planned to issue a report on the proceedings by Monday.

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He said he found no proof that killings were state-sponsored, but suggested that President Duterte’s assurances that no policeman would be prosecuted for engaging drug offenders in armed encounters had “inspired” narcotics peddlers to fight to the death.

Gordon said he was inclined to include in the report a brotherly recommendation calling on the President to engage in  “less talk,” apparently fearing widespread concerns by local human rights activists and the international community over killings outside of police operations.

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“I really believe that … . As a brotherly, friendly advice, I’m not afraid of putting that in,” said the committee chair.

Gordon slammed Sen. Leila de Lima’s adamant position that the extrajudicial killings were supported by the administration.

“That is the allegation. That is how Senator De Lima wants it to appear. On the face of it, I do not see it. I stand by what I said that President Duterte should not talk so much because I think his passion overcomes him,” he said.

Gordon replaced De Lima, who was ousted as committee chair by senators disappointed at her handling of the initial hearings, presenting a confessed hit man, Edgar Matobato, who claimed Mr. Duterte ordered the killings of 1,000 people when he was mayor of Davao City. Senators said Matobato lied in attempts to mislead them.

Gordon said the President had the courage to say that drug offenders need to go and to embolden the police force to do their part in the campaign against illegal drugs.  “But what is its effect? Drug pushers are inspired to fight back because they are afraid,” he said.

“I don’t think the killings are Duterte-inspired, in fairness. I don’t think he’ll push anybody to kill,” he said.

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TAGS: Drug war, Drugs, extrajudicial killings, Human rights, Philippine news updates, President Duterte, Richard Gordon, vigilante killings
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