Conceding that extrajudicial killings, which might have been committed by drug traffickers exist in the country, Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III nevertheless strongly denied that the killings were state-sponsored.
Sotto issued the statement when sought to comment on Senator Manny Pacquiao’s remark before Oxford University students in the United Kingdom that there are no EJKs in the government’s war against drugs.
“We have to admit there were EJKs, but the government did not order them,” said Sotto.
He said those involved in the illicit drug trade who were behind the killings are scared that their identities will be revealed to authorities following the arrest of their underlings.
“But was it sanctioned by the government? No. Perhaps, that’s what Manny Pacquiao means,” he said.
He lamented that the image of the country’s war against drugs has been slanted before the international community to show that EJKs were being done by government authorities.
He also said the term EJK itself is “non-existent,” as there are no judicial killings or even a death penalty in the country. “So, it’s a misnomer,” he said.
The Liberal Party, on the other hand, asked when the killings would stop. “Let’s always choose to defend life and justice in this country,” said LP Secretary General Erin Tañada.
“Why can’t these killings stop? When will we start giving value to life and justice? Where is the government, the supposed enforcer of laws? I thought this administration promised law and order, particularly for the poor. Why are the defenders of the poor and the powerless are the ones being killed?”
The LP came out with the statement in the wake of the killing of the counsel of the farmers killed in Sagay, Negros Occidental recently.
“Let’s honor this brave human rights fighter, Atty. Ben Ramos. I hope that his death will serve as an eye-opener to our people that we need to stand up for justice, our rights, particularly of the poor who have always been denied of justice. We will be relentless in this kind of terror attack. This is a clear act of cowardice by people who use their power to realize their selfish interests,” said Tañada.