Press Release
August 19, 2016

Law enforcers, CHR exec to attend Senate probe
on extrajudicial killings Monday

The country's top law enforcement and human rights officials are expected to attend on Monday, August 22, an inquiry on how to address the spate of extrajudicial and summary killings in the country in the government's campaign against illegal drugs.

Sen. Leila M. de Lima, chairperson of the Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights, said the committee will also look into probable solutions on how to improve the Philippine's criminal justice system.

"We need to address the phenomenon of vigilantism and summary killings and to enhance the accountability of state and non-state actors," she stressed.

"Regardless of the question whether those killed were in fact criminals, precisely because there was no opportunity for them to be prosecuted before a court of law, the fight against crime is apparently becoming a state-sanctioned cover for a policy of summary executions and extrajudicial killings of any and all suspected criminals," she added. De Lima said she filed Senate Resolution No. 9 to address the increase in extrajudicial killings and summary executions of suspected criminals and to strengthen "the mechanisms of accountability of law enforcers, instituting corrective measures to ensure full respect for basic human rights, especially the right to life."

Law enforcement officials including Philippine National Police (PNP) Director General Ronald de la Rosa, Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) Director General Isidro Lapeña, National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) Director Dante Gierran, among others, are expected to give their testimonies on the rising trend in extrajudicial killings during the hearing.

Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Ismael Sueno and Commission on Human Rights (CHR) Chairman Chito Gascon will also attend the hearing as resource persons to provide their insights on the issue.

A former chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights, de Lima lamented the fact that "killings have become so common that mass media has settled for fill-in-the-blank template news reports, differing only in the place, time and name of the victim."

De Lima said she fully supports President Rodrigo Duterte's war on drugs and crime and "by presenting the truth, we aim to achieve genuine victory in the campaign against drugs and criminality by enacting the necessary laws and policies that will help our law enforcers better perform their mandate."

"Above all else, we are one with President Duterte in wanting to reinforce our systems of laws to ensure the rule of law and respect for human rights at all times," she stressed. She cited a television report which pegged the total death toll from summary and extrajudicial killings at 399 from May to July 12 this year. The same report pinpointed police officers or unidentified vigilantes as the culprits for the killings.

De Lima said the committee will also discuss a proposal she filed, Senate Bill No. 369 or the Criminal Investigation Act of 2016, which seeks to improve the criminal justice process to dissuade vigilantism.

She said SBN 369 would "ensure the speedy, effective, efficient and economical conduct of criminal investigations by enhancing the cooperation and coordination of law enforcement and prosecution agencies." The cooperation between law enforcement and prosecution agencies would streamline "the process of determining which criminal complaints should proceed to trial and eliminating bureaucratic layers which cause undue delays in the criminal justice," according to de Lima. (Yvonne Almirañez)

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