PNP urged to create task force on drug-linked deaths

By: - Reporter / @TarraINQ
/ 03:41 AM December 16, 2016
Rain pours onto the body of Romeo Torres Fontanilla, who was gunned down, witnesses said, by two unknown men on a motorbike, in the Pasay district of Manila, Philippines, Oct. 11, 2016. A bloody and chaotic campaign against drugs that President Rodrigo Duterte began when he took office on June 30 has seen about 2,000 people slain at the hands of the police alone. (Daniel Berehulak/The New York Times)

Rain pours onto the body of Romeo Torres Fontanilla, who was gunned down, witnesses said, by two unknown men on a motorbike, in the Pasay district of Manila, Philippines, Oct. 11, 2016.  (Daniel Berehulak/The New York Times)

Sen. Panfilo Lacson urged the Philippine National Police on Thursday to create a separate task force to focus on the more than 3,000 “deaths under investigation” (DUIs) recorded since July, calling it a “police problem” that must be resolved even as the administration pursues its brutal drug war.

Lacson noted that 3,671 DUIs have been reported from the start of the Duterte administration in July until Dec. 12. This is more than half of the 6,000 deaths within the same time period, while the rest were that of drug suspects killed in police operations.


Only 785 of the DUIs, or 21.4 percent of the cases, have so far been resolved, said Lacson, a former national police chief.

“I suggested to them, though this doesn’t need legislation, that they should create a composite task force to address DUIs only, focus on DUIs,” Lacson told reporters.


Lacson met police officers in an executive session on Wednesday to discuss the death of Albuera Mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr., who was shot inside his prison cell during a police search.


Too low

“It appears that the solution rate is only 21.4 percent, and I told them that’s too  low for a murder solution rate,” he said.

Lacson said police should further categorize the DUIs, including those considered vigilante slays and others that may still be drug-related.

It was among policy recommendations that Lacson, chair of the Senate committee on public order and dangerous drugs, made ahead of the formal release next month of the committee report on Espinosa’s death.

Different situation


The lawmaker also called on law enforcers to take action instead of arguing that murders also happened under previous administrations anyway.

“They’re saying that this is no different from the situation in the previous administration. But I told them the situation now is different because there’s so much pronouncement from the President to go hard against drug peddlers and users,” he said. “Don’t argue with me, don’t argue with the people, don’t argue with us that what’s happening now is the same under the previous administrations.”

Lacson led an executive session with committee members, Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II, National Bureau of Investigation and PNP officials on Wednesday to discuss the investigation into Espinosa’s killing last month.

The NBI submitted its full report, which affirmed his view that Espinosa’s killing was premeditated, he said.

“The killing of Mayor Espinosa was really premeditated,” Lacson said.

He said it was “immaterial” to have to determine the motive at the initial part of the investigation, as the timeline showing clear premeditation, the bullet trajectory, and documentary evidence were enough to establish the murder angle.

Lacson added that Secretary Aguirre had told him he received no particular directive from President Duterte to spare Criminal Investigation and Detection Group  Region 8 head Supt. Marvin Marcos, who was part of the raiding team the killed Espinosa in alleged encounter.

Mr. Duterte had earlier said he had asked Marcos’ reinstatement, but also stressed he would not allow police officers involved to go to jail.

“As of yesterday, he (Aguirre) said there was no instruction from the president to go slow on Marcos and company. That’s why he is proceeding the way he should proceed. He has appointed a panel of prosecutors. And then it will follow the usual [procedure in a preliminary investigation],” Lacson said.

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