MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine National Police Internal Affairs Service (IAS) has started investigating the killings of suspected drug dealers during alleged shootouts with policemen conducting anti-illegal drug operations since May 10.
IAS spokesperson Shella Castillo said part of the agency’s mandate is to investigate police operations which resulted in deaths either by police officers or the subject of their raids to ensure the police observed operational procedures.
“Based on mandate, we are here to investigate every death in police operations involving drugs,” Castillo said.
The PNP said 29 suspected drug pushers were killed during police operations from May 9 to June 15, and 25 others were also shot dead from June 16 to 20, bringing to 54 the death toll of suspects in the illegal drug trade as of June 20.
She noted that investigation of each of the cases was complicated and could last about two weeks.
Castillo pointed out that charges would be filed against policemen found liable for violations of police operational procedures (POP).
PNP spokesman Chief Supt. Wilben Mayor stressed there is a presumption of regularity in police operations despite the increasing number of suspects killed by law enforcers.
“Part of the investigation is to determine the circumstances behind the operation and why the suspects were killed,” Mayor said.
Some sectors have expressed alarm over the increasing number of people killed in anti-illegal drug operations by the police, notably after tough-talking president-elect Rodrigo Duterte won in the May 9 elections.
Duterte made a campaign promise to eradicate crime and illegal drugs in the first six months of his presidency.
Mayor assured the public that there are mechanisms to check abuses of policemen.
He cited PNP units like the IAS and the Directorate for Investigation and Detective Management (DIDM) that are working to determine any wrongdoing of policemen.
“This is to avoid the negative perception and at the same time, for us to know the truth about the involvement of policemen (in the death of the suspects). And if they are involved, then they deserve to be removed from the service,” Mayor said.
Quoting DIDM documents, Mayor said 25 drug suspects were killed from June 16 to 20 alone, or an average of five people a day over five days in separate police operations in Luzon and the Visayas.
Mayor added that the police operations against illegal drugs are in compliance with the policy of the incoming president.
“The intensity of the operations against illegal drugs, which he (Duterte) is really against, is pushing the PNP. This is why our policemen are focused on the illegal drugs campaign because the focus of the incoming president is against illegal drugs,” Mayor added.
Duterte had vowed to cleanse the country of illegal drugs and wants Congress to reenact the death penalty law, with death by hanging as one of its features.
INCOMING Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian on Monday urged the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) and the Philippine National Police’s internal affairs department to look into the spate of police killings of drug suspects.
And he wants President Aquino, who is still Chief Executive, to “take the lead” in the investigation despite the fact that Mr. Aquino is stepping down on Thursday.
“They should see if there is a violation of the law and due process,” Gatchalian insisted.
Gatchalian said the deaths of drug suspects which he noted now numbered 51 since May should all be investigated.
“We just can’t say (the drug suspects) fought (and then were killed by the police) and that is the end of that,” Gatchalian told reporters at the Senate where he attended an orientation for new senators.
He said the investigation should proceed and “put closure to what has happened.”
People should not accept their deaths this way, according to Gatchalian, who underscored the need for the respect of due process and the law.
As a deterrent
Gatchalian had said during the election campaign that he favored the reimposition of the death penalty for big-time syndicate leaders to serve as a deterrent for foreign drug lords to come here and operate.
Reminded of the all-out war against drugs by the incoming administration, he said the police should still follow the law and due process.
“It’s not because there is a new pronouncement that you change things and neglect the law,” Gatchalian said.
Last month, PNP officials attributed the intensified antidrug operations to the “motivation” and “policy direction” from President-elect Rodrigo Duterte to step up the war on narcotics.
The PNP had said that from Jan. 1 to May 9, there were 13,920 suspects arrested and 39 more killed in antidrug operations nationwide.
After the elections, from May 10 to June 15, there were 3,760 suspects arrested and 29 killed, he added.
The monthly average from the preelection period he cited was 3,480 for arrests and nine for kills.
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Tags: "Internal Affairs", alleged shootouts with policemen, anti-illegal drug operations, antidrug operations, CHR, Commission on Human Rights, death penalty, drug suspects, drug suspects killed, due process, Duterte, Philippine National Police, Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte, war on narcotics