Hontiveros insists there is state policy on drug deaths
Senator Risa Hontiveros said she was not a “genius” but maintained that there is a state policy of killing drug suspects under the present administration.
Hontiveros issued the statement on Wednesday, a day after President Rodrigo Duterte called her “stupid.”
“I am not a genius but I know that while two deaths do not make a policy, thousands of dead, without remorse, regret, or action from the government, do. Eight thousand to 13,000 people have already died in this bloody war on drugs, mostly from the ranks of the poor,” she said in a statement.
During a Senate probe on Tuesday, Hontiveros alleged that there is a state policy in killing drug suspects which the President belied.
“Do you think two killings, even if it is illegal, will make a policy?” Duterte said.
“Let’s say it’s murder. I ask Hontiveros, is that already a policy? Is that a baseline policy? She is so stupid,” he added.
Hontiveros said she expected Duterte’s tirades, but questioned how the number of casualties in the government’s war on drug has reached “catastrophic levels” if there was no guiding principle and policy behind it.
“The President, quite expectedly, even launched a verbal assault against me, calling me ‘bobo,’” the senator said. “Ang libong mga namatay ay hindi bunga ng aksidente. May intensyon, may nagdikta, may sistema at polisiya sa likod ng mga patayan.”
(Thousands of death is not an accident. There is intention, someone had dictated, there’s a system and policy behind the killings.)
“How could the number of dead reach such catastrophic levels if there is no guiding principle and policy behind it?” Hontiveros asked.
The senator also said Duterte could not just wash his hands of the spate of killings in the country.
“Through his words and endless provocation, President (Rodrigo) Duterte set into motion the killing of thousands. He has smeared the image of the police force. He inspired this culture of killing and impunity,” she said.
Hontiveros, an opposition member, also noted the alleged justification of the President’s allies on the recent killings.
“In fact, the Duterte government already acknowledged this policy. Justifying the recent killing of 69 suspects in Bulacan, Caloocan and Manila in just one week last month, the President’s spokesperson said that there is ‘rhyme and reason’ behind the killings,” she said.
“Even the Chief of the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) admitted before media that there is a pattern to the killings,” the senator added.
But PAO Chief Persida Rueda-Acosta, during a Senate hearing on Tuesday, denied saying that there was pattern to the killings of two teenagers, Kian Delos Santos and Carl Angelo Arnaiz.
Meanwhile, Hontiveros noted that Duterte has encouraged violence against drug users and pushers through his statements such as: “shoot suspects if they fight back, make them fight if they don’t kill all criminals, and makapatay lang tayo ng (if we can kill) another 32 every day, then maybe we can reduce what ails this country.”
“President Duterte may insult me but he cannot deny the fact that the words coming from his lips, or those of any head of State, have the effect of policy. And the truth is, the President has a well-documented record of encouraging violence against drug dependents and suspected drug pusher,” she said.
The senator also pointed out that Duterte’s words have the effect and weight of a policy.
“When they come from a President, these are not just words. They have the effect and weight of policy. Understanding this idea is the reason why Presidents and heads of state practice diplomacy, because they are keenly aware of the effect their words have on their citizens, much more on the state’s uniformed services,” Hontiveros said.
“I don’t need to engage in an exchange of petty personal attacks and insults with the President to remind him of this,” she added.
Hontiveros also called on the members of the Philippine National Police (PNP) to help stop the “climate of death” by “rejecting the policy that encourages the culture of killing.”
“I call on the honest and selfless rank-and-file members and leaders of the Philippine National Police (PNP) to help us stop this climate of death. I am not unfamiliar with the police community. I am a PNP widow. I know many of you are honorable and patriotic. I know many of you have worked hard to professionalize the police force. I know many of you are hurting from the actions of a few corrupt and abusive within your ranks,” said Hontiveros.
“It’s time to end this madness. Let us redeem the reputation and integrity of the PNP. We start this by rejecting the policy that encourages the culture of killing,” she added. JPV