De Lima opposes resumption of ‘murderous’ war against drugs
QUEZON CITY --- While in detention, Sen. Leila M. de Lima yesterday (March 1) expressed strong opposition to the Duterte administration’s plan to lift the suspension of police operations on the war on drugs which resulted in the rise of extrajudicial and summary killings in the country. Cognizant of the extent of the country’s illegal drug problem that spans past administrations, De Lima said the government should heed incessant warnings from local and global community against the blatant defects in the police anti-drug operations. “It’d be the height of arrogance if our government would resume its most murderous war on drugs without correcting its defects, without getting rid of corrupt policemen, and without making them accountable for their crimes,” she said. “Like many of you know, the illegal drug abuse and trafficking present a persistent problem not only for the Philippines but also for other countries. We are against drug trade, but we should not allow innocent people summarily killed,” she added. President Duterte earlier said it is up to Philippine National Police (PNP) Director General Ronald de la Rosa to decide when to resume the government’s anti-drug operations following the alleged return of drug peddlers and users across the country. De la Rosa reportedly spoke with governors, mayors and village officials who purportedly were clamouring for the resumption of police operations against illegal drugs. He however did not identify the names of the government officials he spoke with. The senator from Bicol called on the attention of the government to heed the “Alternate Report” submitted by the Ateneo Human Rights Center (AHRC) to the United Nations Human Rights Council for its 3rd Cycle of 27th Session released last Oct. 14. In its Alternate Report, AHRC noted several defects in the implementation of the “Double Barrel Project” which claimed thousands of the lives, including innocent individuals, including children, treated as “collateral damage” in the anti-drive campaign. “It is reckless, to say the least, to allow the resumption of the anti-drug operations of the Philippine National Police which is more interested in the incentives given them than in investigating and preventing death-squad- style killings,” De Lima said. De Lima said the government should throw its “Double Barrel Project” completely in the dust bin until it can come up with an anti-drug campaign that respects and protects the fundamental human rights of individuals, including suspected drug offenders. “The present war on drugs is a dismal failure because there were innocent individuals who were summarily killed, those who were apprehended were not accorded due process of the law, and only the poor were targeted,” she said. De Lima authored Senate Bill 1197 defining extrajudicial killings and imposing life imprisonment without parole for any public officer, person in authority, agency of a person in authority or private person who would be found guilty of extrajudicial killing. Under SB 1197, the local chief executive and chief of police shall also be presumed administratively negligent when there is a notable increase of extrajudicial killing cases within their area of jurisdiction, except in conflict-stricken communities. De Lima also proposed the creation of an Inter-Agency Council Against Extrajudicial Killings (Anti-EJK Council) to address institutional barriers to efficient, independent and impartial investigation of extrajudicial killings among concerned government agencies. The proposed Anti-EJK Council shall coordinate with the Philippine National Police (PNP) and National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), and Commission on Human Rights (CHR), to adhere to minimum standards in the conduct of regular police intervention operations, such as but not limited to arrest, raid, search and seizure.