Litigation lawyer Raymond Fortun said the dispute over how the term “extrajudicial killing” or EJK is being used is meant to divert the public’s attention from the real problem of people being killed without getting a fair trial.
In his Facebook post on August 23, Fortun tried to define and answer the questions from netizens confused as to what may or may not qualify as EJK, especially after Senator Alan Peter Cayetano revealed that the Aquino administration tried to define the term in an Administrative Order No. 35.
“Just today, several netizens had asked me whether the use of the phrase “extrajudicial killing” as it appeared in a certain Administrative Order was correct,” Fortun wrote.
“I can only shake my head, for the apparent dispute on the use of the term is clearly meant to confuse and distract the public on the real issue – that people are being killed without being found guilty in a court of law,” he added.
He even compared the dispute to the debate on the correct pronunciation of “potato,” which could be “puh-TAY-tow” or “puh-TAH-to, when in fact, both terms refer to the same thing – ‘patatas.’
Fortun then gave examples of what would and would not fall under extrajudicial killing.
“’Extrajudicial killing.’ Someone is deemed guilty and executed/killed by people other than lawful authorities even without the benefit of a trial,” he said.
“EJK is now understood as a State arm (police or military) or anybody claiming to act for the State (e.g. NPA, vigilantes) who makes a judgment of ‘guilty!’ and executes a person who is deprived of his constitutional rights to counsel, to confront witnesses, to a fair and impartial tribunal etc.,” he added.
Among his examples are the following:
- “A person killed by the police during a police operation is NOT an EJK. If not done in self-defense, it is a regular crime;
- A person killed by a robber while in the act of robbing is NOT an EJK; it is robbery with homicide (a complex crime);
- A riding-in-tandem shooting may or may not be an EJK, depending on the intent of the shooter. If the intent is to kill someone for sleeping with his wife, it is a regular crime. If it is for being SUSPECTED of crimes against the State, it is an EJK;
- A person dumped on a grassy lot with a cardboard sign “huwag tularan, pusher ako” is an EJK. Why? The person was marked as a pusher and subsequently killed without a trial.”
As of writing, the post has gained 3,500 reactions, 1,904 shares, and 87 comments.
The comments came alive, especially in threads where Fortun would reply to other netizens.
Gilbert Salvador asked how to qualify those killed during a raid and passed off as killed after resisting arrest and shooting at the cops, complete with a gun beside them. Fortun replied that this would be murder.
When the same commenter noted how overused the “nanlaban” excuse has become, Fortun replied by saying that violence will lead to the loss of the country’s “moral soul.”
Another Facebook user commented on why the same passion about stopping extrajudicial killings isn’t used when the victims of drug users are involved and why the police are blamed for these killings instead of being encouraged to do their job, but Fortun pointed out that the cops’ duty is to arrest lawbreakers and that “the end will never justify the means.”
One netizen also raised how he is often called as a ‘protector’ of drug pushers and addicts whenever he raised the issue of extrajudicial killing, but Fortun encouraged him to stay firm with his stand against the killings.
When someone asked why it is called “extrajudicial killings” and whether something can be labeled as “judicial killings,” Fortun explained the meaning of the terms.
As to why the PNP is questioned in the killings with a cardboard sign, Fortun also tried to explain the issue.
Name calling, ever present, also popped up in the comments, when a certain Rinalde De Ocampo said that Fortun’s idea of attributing a drug lord killing his men with a cardboard sign to EJK is “stupid and irresponsible.”
Those who want to join in on the fun and in-depth discussion about extrajudicial killing will learn a lot and probably be exposed to a lot of perspectives about the killings in the comments section of Fortun’s post.