De Lima calls for factual probe, not indictment

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  • De Lima emphasized that the Senate investigation will solely be based on facts rather than witch-hunting or indictment
  • She categorized the deaths into those that occurred during police operations, and those perpetrated by vigilantes
  • She only wants to help the Duterte administration, saying she’s not a foe of the current authority

Senator Leila De Lima yesterday emphasized that the upcoming Senate investigation on drug-related killings will solely be based on facts behind summary executions rather than witch-hunting or indictment.

During the courtesy call at Manila Bulletin’s main office in Intramuros, Manila, De Lima expounded NO INDICTMENT on the Senate inquiry on drug-related killings to be held next week.

“It’s really fact-finding, because we have to know what is really happening on the ground,” De Lima said.

She categorized the deaths into those that occurred during police operations, and those perpetrated by vigilantes.

Philippine National Police (PNP) Director General Ronald dela Rosa revealed that current reports regarding series cases of extrajudicial killings were actually caused by rabid conflicts between illegal drug syndicates in the country.

According to Dela Rosa, this was based on an investigation conducted amid the rising of the so-called vigilante killings which Senator Panfilo Lacson stated to be averaging 20 deaths a day.

Dela Rosa yesterday during a command conference at Camp Crame, Quezon City said, “You will be surprised, this is not the handiwork of vigilantes.”

More than 600 people were reported to be k****d during legal police operations across the country but Lacson, in an interview on Monday stated that the d***h toll is higher in cases of vigilante killings.

“These alleged vigilante killings, it turned out, are syndicated killings. Groups in illegal drugs,” said Dela Rosa.

President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday also pledged to continue commencing his battle against crime and illegal drugs. After the oath-taking of newly appointed officials in Malacañang, Duterted stated, “There is no way to stop it now. There can be no stopping of the momentum until I have destroyed the apparatus. Lalabas ako dito medyo kontrabida o with stained hands, maybe soaked with blood but there is no way to stop it now.”

Duterte stated that most of the illegal drugs in the country are found to be imported from China, which he added is also the den of those behind unlawful trades.

Aside from Chinese drug rings, Duterte added that Mexico’s Sinaloa drug cartel has also invaded the country, establishing a transshipment point for its global network.

“I had for several times warned their ambassadors, ‘you know, a lot of your citizens are destroying my country.’ At hindi ko iyan papalusutin kasi sabi ko, ‘simply, if I allow it, there will be no Philippines tomorrow’,” Duterte continued.

The Senate inquiry, which will start on Aug. 22, will look into various theories, such as on assertions that certain local chief executives are behind the rapid increase of illegal drugs found in communities.

Among those invited to the inquiry are the PNP Chief and heads of the Department of the Interior and Local Government, Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, and the National Bureau of Investigation.

“We don’t intend to really investigate each of these cases… But through the ‘representative cases,’ we would be able to see what is probably going on, why these small-time drug pushers, suspected drug pushers and drug users, some of them assets, are being eliminated,” De Lima said.

De Lima said that the upcoming inquiry would also seek to answer the question on who were involved in vigilante-led executions.

“Our witnesses would just supply their accounts to help authorities pursue [certain] angles,” De Lima said, adding that she would also examine the theories being raised by the police on vigilante killings.

The inquiry will also look into the very institutional capacity of the PNP Internal Affairs Service, as this would also be an opportunity to discover gaps in existing laws.

“The killings should not be part of any strategy to combat criminality, including drugs,” De Lima said. “I agree that there should be an independent probe.”

De Lima admitted that it would be hard to judge President Rodrigo Duterte in his “name-and-shame” style if he regards it as effective in his anti-drug campaign. But it would be better, she said, if charges would be filed very soon against those named as those involved in the drug trade.

Although she acclaimed Duterte in his resolution to end illegal drug trades, de Lima emphasized that the problem must be tackled holistically, as it is also a public health issue.

She also cleared that she is not a foe of the current authority but rather she only wants to help the Duterte administration to come up with better strategies to fight against drug perils.

De Lima admitted that she is “sick and tired” of being portrayed as an “enemy” of the Duterte administration. “I want [people] to understand that I’m not an enemy of this administration, that I’m one with the administration in its intensified drive against criminality, particularly drugs. We must know what exactly is happening, why are there so many killings, who are doing it, (and) why,” she said.