JUSTICE Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II said Sunday the killing of teenagers Kian Delos Santos, Carl Angelo Arnaiz and Reynaldo De Guzman could not be considered extra-judicial killings but common crimes.
He said the circumstances of the deaths of the three were not covered by the definition of EJK under an administrative order creating an inter-agency committee to investigate such incidents.
In other developments:
• Senator Bam Aquino on Sunday expressed support for the move to strip the Philippine National Police of the P900-million Oplan Tokhang budget and give it to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency as the lead agency in the war against illegal drugs.
“The budget allotted for the PNP’s Oplan Tokhang must be stripped and realigned to the new lead agency on the fight against illegal drugs,” said Aquino, vice chairman of the committee on finance.
“We are supporting the plan of the Senate to transfer the said funds to PDEA,” Aquino said.
• Surigao del Norte Rep. Robert Ace Barbers, head of the House committee on dangerous drugs, said the critics of President Rodrigo Duterte must not blame him for his war on drugs.
The President’s detractors should give him the benefit of the doubt and to look at the whole picture objectively, he said.
“In the first place, way before the President took office, the drug menace was already spiraling out of control. He alone had the guts to grab the bull by the horns, so to speak, and declare an all-out war against the problem,” Barbers said.
In an interview over dzBB radio interview on Sunday, Aguirre cited the operational definition of EJK under Administrative Order 35 series of 2012, where “the victim was a member of, or affiliated with an organization to include political, environmental, agrarian, labor or similar causes; or an advocate of above-named causes; or a media practitioner or person(s) apparently mistaken or identified to be so.”
“Sila Kian Delos Santos ba, sila Carl Arnaiz at si Kulot, sila ba ay members ng media, sila ba ay members ng cultural minorities? Hindi. Kaya hindi sila pwedeng pumasok sa definition ng EJK,” Aguirre said.
Instead, Aguirre said, the killing of the three tcould be considered common crimes and not EJKs, just like what happened during martial law at the time of President Ferdinand Marcos.
Aguirre took a swipe at the critics who supposedly wanted to change the definition of EJK, if only to further put a bad rap on the Rodrigo Duterte administration and its campaign against illegal drugs.
“Why change the rules in the middle of the game? Isa lang ang purpose nila, gusto nilang pasamain ang Duterte administration at gusto nilang papasukin yan sa EJK,” he said.
Malacañang had used the same definition to justify the Philippine National Police’s report that there is no EJK under the present administration.
“The PNP’s statement that there is no case of extrajudicial killing under the Duterte Administration is based on the operational guidelines stated in Administrative Order (AO) 35,” Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said in a statement on Oct. 7.