Malacañang on October 8 defended the Philippine National Police’s assertion that there are no cases of extrajudicial killings in the Philippines citing the fact that the country has not restored death penalty.
The PNP drew flak for claiming that there are zero EJKs in the country despite the bloody drug war under President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration.
Government officials have reasoned why the police made such a claim, citing Administrative Order No. 35, series of 2013, which states that EJKs refer to the killings of members of media practitioners, advocates, cause-oriented organizations or victims of mistaken identities. This was issued by former President Benigno Aquino III, but it has not been revoked so the definition stays.
Communications Secretary Martin Andanar also defended the PNP’s claim using the reasoning that there is no death penalty in the Philippines.
“We do not have judicial killing, we do not have capital punishment. It is prohibited to kill in our country. So why is there extrajudicial killing when there is no judicial killing? Why put ‘extra?’ So there is no extrajudicial killings in our country. There is no judicial killing, it is not state sponsored, it is not legal, it is not in our Constitution,” Andanar told dzBB on October 8.
“Therefore, those who were killed in the war on drugs, it’s either they were killed because they fought with the policemen or were liquidated by their companions in the drug industry,” he said.
However, the Commission on Human Rights called this definition as “inappropriate” since AO 35 was issued over concerns of politically motivated killings.
Andanar also challenged the cops who sought the protection of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines to admit to their role in the EJKs and show proof that the government is indeed behind the killings, as per their claims.
“They should show proof. It is easy to talk and to make allegations…Gather the evidence, file cases,” he said.
“It’s easy to make noise, for example, that there are 13,000 people who were killed. With regard to EJK, the government has real numbers and only 3,000 died because of drug operations,” he added.
With all these claims of zero EJK in the country, Human Rights Watch Geneva director John Fisher said the world is not fooled.
“The international community is not fooled by the government’s assertion that the killings perpetrated in the name of the so-called war on drugs don’t constitute extrajudicial killings,” Fisher said.
Senator Bam Aquino also reacted to such claims.
“Unfortunately, the PNP is hiding behind definitions and not facing this issue head-on,” Aquino said.
“Maliit na porsyento na lang ang naniniwala na lehitimo ang mga patayan sa war on drugs, at malaki naman ang nangangamba na masasangkot sila kahit inosente,” he said.
PNP chief Ronald dela Rosa wondered why the definition of EJK changed, while accusing Duterte’s critics for using EJK to damage the government’s war on drugs.
“There’s no EJK, that is true if we will base it on the definition of EJK. The problem with these critics, they created the definition of EJK, but now that they’re not in power anymore, they want to change its meaning?” Dela Rosa said.
He added that the police are not keeping the outcomes of their operations a secret, especially now that the PNP feed information to the media and the public quite freely by giving them access to police reports.