June 21, 2021 at 12:35 am
Rio N. Araja and Macon Ramos-Araneta
The Philippine National Police (PNP) said Sunday it will follow the chain of command if the International Criminal Court (ICC) seeks its cooperation with its investigation of extrajudicial killings in President Rodrigo Duterte's bloody war on drugs.
In an interview with ABS-CBN's TeleRadyo, PNP chief Guillermo Eleazar said the PNP is an organization with a chain of command, and it would adhere to it.
The President has said he will never cooperate with the ICC investigation.
“This is an international issue, and the Department of Foreign Affairs is on it,” Eleazar said in Filipino. “The police will concentrate on our jobs... If there's a violation, we have our own mechanism to penalize erring policemen.”
Eleazar said the government does not sanction state-sponsored killings.
“We have no policy to kill or hurt others if not based on self-defense. That's our policy and law that if we violate, we would have to be accountable. We don't tolerate this,” he said.
The PNP has reported more than 7,000 people have been killed in the drug war, but human rights groups believe there could be thousands more, many of them summary executions.
The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), too, said it would follow the President's orders not to participate in the ICC investigation.
“First and foremost, I want to let all know that PDEA is open to all investigations and as far as those killed during anti-drug operations conducted by PDEA [are concerned]. However, our President has spoken.
What he said was that he would not allow any investigation. I see his reason and where he is coming from,” PDEA Director General Wilkins Villanueva told Dobol B TV.
Retired ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda earlier sought the authority for the ICC to conduct a full investigation of the Philippines' anti-drug campaign.
A preliminary investigation, she said, showed there was reasonable basis to believe that crimes against humanity were committed in the government’s anti-drug operations. (See full story online at manilastandard.net)
But Villanueva challenged Bensouda’s chief claim.
“Even if we say those are crimes against humanity, EJK, what are their details?” he said.
He said PDEA is closely coordinating with the investigating panel of the Department of Justice, and that they are sharing information on their drug war records with the Commission on Human Rights on its request.
Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima on Sunday said the reintroduction of the Philippine Human Rights Act in the US Congress proves that the world never stopped watching and that Duterte should stop promoting violence and killings.
The reintroduction, she said, happened just a few hours short of the ICC's announcement that it was seeking a full investigation into the killings under Duterte’s drug war.
De Lima thanked Pennsylvania's 7th Congressional District Rep. Susan Wild for filing H.R. 3884, which seeks to promote human rights in the
Philippines by suspending the provision of security assistance to the country until the government has made human rights-related reforms in the military and police forces.
In an online event organized by Malaya Movement, Kabataan Alliance and the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines on June 15, Wild said the reintroduction of the bill is a sign of standing up for human rights.
“By blocking assistance to Philippine security forces until such time that human rights standards are met, this bill makes a common-sense proposition. Standing up for human rights requires more than rhetoric, it requires action,” the US lawmaker said.
Amid the human rights situation in the Philippines, De Lima said the passage of such a bill in the US could play a crucial role in the fight for democracy, human rights, and the rule of law in the country.
“This bill shows this government that there are great consequences to its blatant disregard for human rights and the rule of law and that
Duterte should finally rethink his approach to his murderous and fake drug war,” said De Lima.