Debunking the allegations of President Rodrigo Duterte’s critics, Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Oscar Albayalde said yesterday no extrajudicial killings (EJK) happened under the Duterte administration and the term was mere propaganda of his critics.
Albayalde, who is in Benguet for the 117th Police Service Anniversary celebration, said even the Commission of Human Rights (CHR) has not proven a single EJK incident in the conduct of the anti-narcotics campaign.
“There is no EJK whatsoever even the CHR cannot prove that, there is, in fact, no EJK in the country,” Albayalde said.
“But let me make this clear, the PNP had filed cases against 672 police personnel who violated various human rights,” he added.
Albayalde issued the statement in reaction to the Human Rights Watch accusation that no policeman was convicted of EJK charges.
Rights violators charged
The PNP head said since the campaign against illegal drugs started in 2016, some 672 police officers have been charged for violation of human rights.
Since Mr. Duterte assumed the presidency, a total of 7,431 PNP personnel were meted disciplinary actions for administrative offenses.
Of the figure, around 2,169 personnel were dismissed from the service, 4,133 were suspended, 436 demoted, 464 reprimanded, 30 restricted to quarters, 48 withheld of privileges and 151 whose salaries have been forfeited.
In the past 19 months of the PNP’s internal cleansing program, Albayalde said the Counter-Intelligence Task Force (CITF) arrested 91 police personnel and neutralized seven personnel in 50 separate counter-intelligence operations.
CITF commander Senior Supt. Romeo Caramat Jr. said the task force received a total of 13,481 complaints via SMS (short messaging service) and calls
through its hotline numbers, including 1,718 complaints concerning 450 police commissioned officers and 1,454 police non-commissioned officers from 3 February 2017 to 27 September 2018.
The CITF investigations led to the filing of administrative cases before the Internal Affairs Service (IAS) against 66 police personnel and criminal charges in court against 85 other errant police personnel, including 21 civilians.
Caramat said 173 complaints and information received by the task force were subsequently referred to concerned offices of the Deputy Regional Director for Operations.
Of the complaints and information received since 3 February 2017, 36 involving 75 PNP personnel and civilians were investigated and 137 other cases involving 180 PNP personnel and civilians were referred to their respective PNP units for proper validation.
The CITF added there were also 152 walk-in complainants against 203 PNP personnel and other involved civilians.
Earlier, Albayalde had said the term EJK was so abused, it was used and reused and further abused. The word was also used irresponsibly for the propaganda of some sectors, noting that those killed during campaign against illegal drugs were common criminals.
“These are police operations. The President has nothing to do with the operations because his order is to wage a war against illegal drugs,” he said.
“It is unfortunate that some critics of this administration use the term irresponsibly for their own propaganda,” Albayalde added.
Ninja cops under probe
Albayalde also confirmed five policemen who were recently included in the drug matrix released by the President were under pre-charge evaluation.
“All of them were relieved pending an investigation. They will be given due process and they are undergoing a pre-charge evaluation,” he said.
Last Thursday, PNP spokesman Chief Supt. Benigno Durana bared the identities of the sacked cops as Senior Supt. Leonardo Suan, Supt. Lorenzo Bacia, Senior Insp. Lito Pirote, Insp. Conrado Caragdag and Senior Police Officer 4 Alejandro Liwanag.
According to the released matrix, the cops were alleged as recycling seized illegal drugs.
Albayalde also gave assurance the police would continue to implement “innovative strategies.”
The PNP chief said this would serve as both an inspiration and a challenge for the police to intensify the campaign further, along with the built-in safeguards to maintain its good intentions without irregularity or abuse.
“Our campaign against illegal drugs will continue to be relentless and chilling but likewise compliant with the requirements of due process, human rights of individuals, including drug suspects and the rule law,” Albayalde said.
Judicial system functions
Malacañang said the country has a robust judicial system to make leaders accountable for their actions.
Newly designated presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said the judicial system does not need the guidance of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to prosecute cases.
Past events showed that the country thrived even without the ICC, he said.
The Palace official cited historical events to prove this claim such as the conviction of President Joseph Ejercito Estrada and the filing of charges against former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
“What’s the proof? We jailed former President Erap (Estrada)… We also detained former President Gloria (Macapagal)-Arroyo, but she was finally acquitted,” Panelo said.
Panelo added under the Rome Statute, the ICC can only intervene when a certain country is unwilling or unable to prosecute heinous crimes which is not the case as of current.
“In other words, we don’t even need an ICC because we have shown, demonstrated to the world that we can do without them,” he said, even citing the 1986 revolution which toppled the dictatorship of then President Ferdinand Marcos.
At the same press briefing, the Palace official relayed his designation as the new presidential spokesman effective immediately.
No naming of narcos
Mr. Duterte also rejected suggestions for government to release the names of politicians linked to the narcotics trade who are seeking posts in the 2019 polls.
“I will not. It’s not a good policy to telegraph your intention or what you know about matters of breaking penal laws,” Duterte told reporters in Davao City following his arrival from Bali, Indonesia where he attended the ASEAN Leaders’ Gathering on Thursday.
The Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) announced that it will forward the list of suspected “narco-politicians” to the Commission on Elections (Comelec).
DILG assistant secretary and spokesman Jonathan Malaya said that while the agency does not know what course of action the Comelec could take against the suspected narco-politicians, it is still hoping that they would be disqualified.
“We are going to forward to Commission on Elections all of those lists for their proper disposition. It’s up to the Comelec how they will handle that concern,” Malaya said at a Palace press briefing.
“DILG officer-in-charge Eduardo Año mentioned that we would want them to be disqualified, but there are legal impediments as mentioned by some election lawyers,” he added.
During the last barangay elections, the government released the names of barangay officials with suspected links to the illegal drug trade.
Malaya said the DILG has not yet received clearance from the Office of the President to do the same for the upcoming mid-term polls in May 2019.
With Hananeel Bordey and Elmer N. Manuel