More Filipinos fearing EJKs ‘expected, understandable’—senators
The latest Social Weather Station (SWS) survey’s result showing that majority of Filipinos are worried about alleged extrajudicial killings (EJKs) in the country was “expected” and “understandable,” senators said on Monday.
Senator Grace Poe said the fear in the hearts of Filipinos getting fatally caught in the war against drugs was “understandable,” citing the growing number of innocent people reportedly being killed in the government’s attempt to immediately solve the problem on drugs.
This fear, Poe said, was further fueled by the “apparent inaction against the police officers involved in several questionable murder of unarmed victims, almost making these state-inspired killings.”
“Sadly, one can’t help but think that such fear is exactly what the President wants to achieve as part of his solution to the problem,” she said in a text message.
“The state has the duty to assure the people, not by mere words but by positive actions, (that) by pursuing the war with the might of the rule of law … the value of the life of every Filipino is respected in the process,” added Poe, who is part of the majority bloc in the Senate.
The SWS survey, conducted from December 3 to 6, showed that 78 percent of 1,500 respondents or nearly 8 out of 10 adult Filipinos were worried that they or someone they know would fall victim to EJKs.
Poe said the survey should “jolt government into urgently carrying out important reforms,” such as the strengthening of the Internal Affairs Service in the Philippine National Police by making it a fully-staffed and a well-funded independent organization.
“If the survey identifies areas of immediate concerns, then it is the IAS that has the power to attend to it. Without the IAS policing the police, abuses will continue with impunity, excesses will not be checked, and violations will not be probed and punished,” said the lady senator.
“We need the IAS to blow the whistle, because only by adopting a zero-tolerance policy on police violations of the laws they are supposed to uphold will we be able to create an ethical police force.”
Poe reiterated that while aggressive, the government’s campaign against drug lords should always be “rules-based and must follow the law.”
“Because if we will tolerate policemen who have gone rogue, and ignore their shortcuts as necessary expediencies, then at the end of the day, we have created a bad police force that will haunt us later,” she added.
The result of the survey did not also come as a surprise to Senate Minority Leader Ralph Recto, saying he “expected” that the results of the survey would show that the people were scared and concerned of the EJKs.
“I think they are seriously reconsidering their approach. Although I don’t expect rhetoric to change,” Recto said in a separate text message when asked if the government should now reconsider its approach in solving the drug problems.
While supporting the government’s war on drugs, neophyte Senator Joel Villanueva said the growing number of people being killed should be a cause of concern.
“We are all against illegal drugs but our war on drugs resulted already to at least 6,000 dead and 3,000 killed by vigilantes. We are not sure if they are all criminals because we have denied them of due process. Some of the victims are children,” Villanueva, who is also part of the Senate majority bloc, said in another text statement.
“Surely, what is happening should really be a cause of concern and the recent survey is the affirmation of that,” he said.
Villanueva then urged the government to reconsider its approach and pursue other options in fighting illegal drugs, saying “there is an empirical evidence that supports more effective policies in helping individuals with drug addiction.” JE/rga
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