Friday, February 3, 2017

Amnesty International Reports on the Philippine Police’s Murderous War on the Poor

Wazzup Pilipinas!

"So how did Amnesty International confirm that the "assassins" they interviewed are indeed "assassins"?" - Sass Rogando Sasot

Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar says that international human rights watchdog Amnesty International’s (AI) report on PHL’s war on drugs 'unfair.' After AI has reported that policemen are getting paid certain amounts for every drug personality they could kill, the Duterte administration is surely in the hot seat again. The report that police men are behind the vigilante killings is not too far-fetched. It may very well be the reality.

“Acting on instructions from the very top of government, the Philippines police have killed and paid others to kill thousands of alleged drug offenders in a wave of extrajudicial executions that may amount to crimes against humanity.”

AI has reported that two persons have claimed being paid by a police officer P10,000 for each killing of a suspected drug offender. The report also says that some police are rewarded by undertakers for sending dead bodies their way, police steal from victims' homes, and paid killers are on the police payroll. "The police are behaving like the criminal underworld that they are supposed to be enforcing the law against, by carrying out extrajudicial executions disguised as unknown killers and 'contracting out' killings." 

The police “systematically targeted mostly poor and defenseless people across the country while planting ‘evidence’, recruiting paid killers, stealing from the people they kill and fabricating official incident reports” says AI.

In its report presented to the media, AI said that the two individuals it interviewed referred to the police officer as their "boss" and that they were hired to kill even before President Rodrigo Duterte was sworn into office.

"They said that before President Duterte took office, they had around two 'jobs' a month. Now, they have three to four a week," AI said in its report.

The report quoted a "male killer" as saying that all of their kill orders come through the police officer, who was not identified.

"When we're given an order, there's an envelope," the male killer said, adding that the envelope would contain their target's name, address and a picture.

"It's almost a complete profile... Someone else has already been assigned to do surveillance," AI quoted the male killer as telling them.

The male killer claimed to AI that they carry out the killings as a "riding-in-tandem hit-and-run" style.

The female paid killer added that the envelops given to them "now give a drug link" of their supposed target.

"The rate depends. For a user, it's 5,000 pesos. For a pusher, 10,000 to 15,000 pesos. It depends on the person," the female killer was quoted as saying in the report.

She added that there are times when they kill more than one suspected drug offender, they are paid "per head."

"If they work in pairs, they split the payment," AI said.

The AI report revealed that "many drug-related killings are extrajudicial executions that directly implicate the police."

AI said its researchers interviewed 110 people nationwide, and documented 33 cases of drug-related killings, of which 20 occurred in formal police operations and 13 involved unknown armed men.

However, the PNP are denying the key finding in the report. “There is no such pay-offs,” says Chief Supt. Camilo Cascolan, chief of the PNP’s Directorate for Operations. “(We) never [knew] about such thing. We just do our job for the people,” he added.

More than 1,000 people are being killed a month in drug crackdown...and we have a President who boasts of the killings and even more if these suspected or alleged drug personalities do not shape up. But the easy way out is only for the affluent. Those who live in the slum areas are gunned down easily with a defense that they fought back against the drug bust raiders. No matter how the relatives testify that the victims did not and do not even have guns, their cries remained ignored by the government who is more protective of their police rather than the citizens.  The police have routinely claimed that they had been fired upon first, which directly contradicts the witnesses' claims.

Indeed, the police corruption and abuse is strikingly real. There is no war on drugs but a war on the poor. The same streets that Dutete vows to get rid of crime are now filled with bodies of people illegally killed by his own police. Often on the flimsiest of evidence or hearsay, people are accused of selling or using drugs, and being killed for cash in an economy of murder.

The report on the war vs drugs is also a big slap in the face of the Senator Richard Gordon-led Senate Justice Committee. Not surprisingly, Gordon calls the AI report as mere hearsay. Menawhile, Senator Panfilo Lacson wants AI to show proof or evidence to back their report.

Sr. Maria Vida Cordero, member of AI Philippines Board of Trustees, urged Duterte to put an end to his war on drugs.

"The war on drugs has become war on the poor," Cordero said. "Mr. President, listen to the cry of the poor. You cannot solve a crime with another crime."

On January 29, Duterte ordered the disbandment of all anti-drug units of the Philippine National Police in relation to the killing of South Korean businessman Jee Ick Joo, where several policemen are allegedly involved.

PNP chief Director General Ronald "Bato" Dela Rosa said they will focus on "internal cleansing" for the meantime with the suspension of anti-illegal drug operations.

The war on drugs of the Duterte administration, however, would continue and will now be led by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA).

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