Lacson committee to probe rise in drug killings
The Senate will begin on Thursday an investigation of the recent upsurge in drug killings by the police, including that of 17-year-old Kian Loyd delos Santos.
A four-page resolution of the majority bloc, which was firmed up after 14 of its 17 members met in a caucus on Sunday night, expressed the “sense of the Senate to condemn” the slaying of Delos Santos.
The resolution directed the appropriate committee to conduct the inquiry to determine the accountability of the Philippine National Police “in the unnecessary and unjustified deaths and/or killings.”
Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III said on Monday that the investigation would be referred on Tuesday to the committee on public order and dangerous drugs chaired by Sen. Panfilo Lacson.
Lacson said that on Thursday’s hearing, he would invite Delos Santos’ father and witnesses now under the custody of Sen. Risa Hontiveros.
Among those to be invited are PNP Director General Ronald dela Rosa; National Capital Region Director Oscar Albayalde; Criminal Investigation and Detection Group Director Roel Obusan; Caloocan policemen; barangay officials; those who have control over the CCTV at the scene of the incident; officials of the PNP Internal Affairs Service, Department of Justice and the National Bureau of Investigation.
The majority bloc was appalled at the spate of killings in antidrug operations on Aug. 15 and 16 in Bulacan province and in Manila where in a span of 24 hours a total of 60 drug suspects were killed. On Aug. 18, another 13 were added to the list of fatalities.
The senators noted the killing of Delos Santos, who police officers from Precinct 7 along bloc 7 Riverside in Barangay Baesa, Caloocan City, alleged had tried to run away and had shot at them on Wednesday.
“Eyewitness accounts and CCTV footage, however, belie the narrative of the police involved as these reveal that Kian delos Santos had already been apprehended by the police, and that he was forced to hold a gun and run with a gun. Delos Santos was then shot,” the resolution said.
The senators said the government should “always ensure that no innocent lives are unnecessarily lost and that those within the ranks of the police or any government agency should be held fully accountable for any crime or offense.”
“Senators whether in the majority or the minority should set aside our differences and unite behind a more vocal effort to oppose extrajudicial killings,” Sen. Francis Pangilinan said in a text message.
Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV said the majority resolution showed that President Duterte no longer had control over the Senate.
“They cannot look the other way. They can see the people’s anger,” Trillanes said of Mr. Duterte’s war on drugs, which had received resounding approval in public opinion surveys.
Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto said the PNP should justify its P1-billion fund request for its antidrug operations, saying the congressional budget hearings would provide a chance for oversight to determine where it gets its “financial ammunition” for its nationwide campaign.
In a statement, Recto said Congress must first question the PNP on its implementation of Oplan Double Barrel Reloaded before reloading the campaign with funds. “It must not write a blank check,” he said.
Sen. Grace Poe said Mr. Duterte’s campaign should not turn into a competition among police stations for the most drug kills.
“If this is a contest, the killings will not end. There will be no winner,” Poe said during a visit in Lucena City on Monday. —With reports from Nikko Dizon, Jocelyn R. Uy, and Delfin T. Mallari Jr.