DAVAO CITY, Philippines – The Philippine National Police has challenged the New York-based watchdog Human Rights Watch to present evidence, affidavits, and file the appropriate cases against erring policemen, if allegations of planting evidence were true.
“If there are evidence that would point to the violation of these police officers, kasuhan po natin. Hindi ho namin papayagan na sila ay gumagawa ng mali at hindi natin napapasagot” (If there are evidence that would point to the violation of these police officers,then let’s file cases against them. We will not let them get away with their wrongdoings), police spokesman Sr. Supt. Carlos Dionaldo said in a press conference Thursday.
Also on Thursday, the Human Rights Watch released a report that analyzed 24 supposedly drug related incidents that resulted into 32 deaths, reportedly in the hands of the police between October 2016 and January 2017.
“Human Rights Watch found that the official police reports of these incidents invariably asserted self-defense to justify police killings, contrary to eyewitness accounts that portray the killings as coldblooded murders of unarmed drug suspects in custody,” the report said.
HRW accused the police of “routinely” planting guns, spent ammunition, and drug packets next to the victims’ bodies to bolster their claim. HRW also held President Rodrigo Duterte as ultimately responsible for the over 7,000 deaths that have occured as a result of his war against drugs since Duterte’s inauguration on June 30 of last year.
Dionaldo, however, countered that not all of the reported deaths had been drug-related. Citing data from the PNP Task Force Usig, Dionaldo said that of over 4,000 cases of death under investigation, only 682 had been drug-related. At least 800 had already been resolved and concluded. The remaining are, as Dionaldo said were “common crimes.”
Task Force Usig is a task force designated by the PNP to investigate politically motivated deaths in the country.
Dionaldo maintained the PNP’s stance that they only fire when their lives are at stake.
“In the war against drugs, we don’t want the 2,600 getting killed, but we will protect ourselves to make sure that we are standing and continue to do our mandate. Hindi ho kami ang nagcreate ng scenario na sila ay napatay” (We did not create the scenarios in which they died), Dionaldo said.
Dionaldo also maintained that the PNP was open for investigation by other bodies, even as they conduct their own probes through the Internal Affairs Service and the Counter Intelligence Task Force.
The IAS, Dionaldo said, has already heard some 2000 cases of possible police misconduct, are investigating 28, with two already facing murder charges in the criminal courts.
Dionaldo however, maintained that overall, the PNP has performed “with regularity.”
“Incidents in the past seven months investigated. majority of findings walang pagkakamali o paglabag sa regulasyon, procedure ‘yung ating mga pulis. They performed their duty with regularity” (In the past seven months, majority of the findings found no wrongdoing or violation of procedures on the part of the police. They performed their duty with regularity), Dionaldo said.
The PNP’s war on drugs had recently been reinstated by the president after it was postponed after the death of Korean businessman Jee Ick Joo inside the PNP headquarters in Camp Crame. In their place, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency had been tasked to become the lead agency in implementing Duterte’s campaign. Duterte also enlisted the help of the Army as support forces.
HRW, meanwhile urged the President to “publicly denounce” extrajudicial killings and other abuses in the anti-drug campaign, press investigation of these cases and cease from enlisting the Army in anti-drug operations, among others.
It also recommended the president to “cease public statements that instigate or incite state security forces and the general public to commit unlawful killings and other abuses against suspected drug dealers and users.” (davaotoday.com)