June 25, 2024

The Insider News

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House panel resumes probe into EJKs, war on drugs death toll

DURING the resumption of the House investigation into the death toll of the previous administration’s war on drugs last Wednesday, lawyer Chel Diokno pointed out how the Office of the President reported in 2017 a total of 20,322 persons killed from July 1, 2016 to Nov. 27, 2017.  

“There is one number that is unassailable because this comes from the Office of the President (OP) and was cited in an extended resolution of the Supreme Court, and that number is 20,322 persons killed in the war on drugs,” Diokno declared. 

Diokno broke down the figure, explaining that 3,967 persons were killed in police operations, while the remaining 16,355, were those killed by riding-in-tandem assailants and other unknown persons during the period cited.

According to him, the data that the Supreme Court, in its extended resolution on the war on drugs, cited was based on the Command Memorandum Circular (CMC) 16-2016 signed by then PNP chief Ronald Dela Rosa. 

The CMC implemented the “double-barrel” operation that included “Oplan Tokhang” and “Oplan high-value targets” (HVT).  

Manila Rep. Bienvenido Abante Jr., who chairs the House Committee on Human Rights which is conducting the hearing, asked why charges have yet to be filed considering the former president is no longer in office. 

Diokno replied, “The problem, your Honor, is that those who are directly aggrieved, the relatives of the victims, are very afraid to file cases.”

Former Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea challenged the sourcing of Diokno’s data, “First of all those copies kung meron man, are part of the privilege communication of the Office of the President. If there was such a report given, I cannot disclose that because I’m barred,” adding that he had never seen the report. 

Kabataan Party-list Rep. Raoul Danniel Manuel questioned former Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Oscar Albayalde about the process on handling suspected drug personalities who did not voluntarily surrender. 

Albayalde responded, “I have no knowledge of that, Mr. Chairman. Because as you have said, they did not surrender, so wala po kaming information.”

Manuel insisted that Albayalde should have a process for managing various scenarios, given the existence of the list of suspected drug pushers and users. 

“Dapat handa po tayo sa mga kung ano mang scenario. Kasi pag hindi po natin nalalatag ng maayos ang proseso, doon pa lang, ibig sabihin pwede yan maging prone sa misinterpretation o pwede pa nga ay magkaroon talaga ng mga violations ng mga karapatan ng mga kababayan natin kapag in-implement na ito sa iba’t-ibang bahagi ng bansa,” Manuel said.

He further criticized the implications of CMC 16-2016, stating, “Para bang ang presumption (under the CMC) ay guilty na kung sino man ang nasa listahan. Ang choice mo na lang ay mag-surrender ka. At kung hindi ka magsu-surrender ay ine-negate ka. At kung ano man ang interpretasyon na nun ng mga pulis sa iba’t-ibang areas.”

The inquiry is pursuant to House Resolution 14 filed by Manuel, and the privilege speech of ACT Teachers Party-list Rep. France Castro on the EJKs committed during the Duterte administration.