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Namumuro na! Senate minority seeks probe on drug-related killings in Cebu

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The Senate minority bloc has called for an inquiry into the recent series of killings in Cebu under the “one-time, big-time” (OTBT) anti-illegal drug operations of the Philippine National Police (PNP).

The opposition senators expressed grave concern about the recent wave of killings in Cebu due to the involvement of some police officers who are reportedly pursuing the government’s all-out war on drugs.

“The allegation that police officers themselves are behind some of the killings is highly disturbing,” they said in filing Senate Resolution No. 915 seeking the probe.

The Senate opposition bloc is composed of Senators Franklin Drilon, Francis Pangilinan, Antonio Trillanes IV, Paolo “Bam” Aquino, Risa Hontiveros, and Leila de Lima.

They said that police authorities can only use force in legitimate police operations only when it is “strictly necessary, for lawful law enforcement purposes, proportional to lawful objectives, and damage and injury are to be minimized.”

“As duty bearers, the PNP must observe proper operational procedures in order to fulfill the organization’s obligation with respect to human rights-based policing,” they pointed out.

Last July 18, the members of the Senate minority bloc have issued a joint statement expressing alarm over the brazenness of killings in the country, especially in Metro Cebu where scores of suspected drug offenders were arrested and killed without due process.

According to Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña, the number of killings has started to rise after Cebu City Police Office Director Royina Garma and Police Regional Office-7 (PRO-7) Director Debold Sinas have assumed their respective posts.

In the three phases of the OTBT operations initiated by PRO-7, a total of 19 suspected drug personalities have already died.

In its third phase of operations alone, at least 10 suspected drug offenders died and 76 were arrested.

The minority senators also noted that the OTBT anti-drug operations from July to October 2018 have resulted in the death of suspected drug offenders on the pretext that they resisted police arrests.

“The recurring narrative of ‘nanlaban’–or suspects having resisted arrest–has been serving as a wrongful justification for fatalities during the conduct of police operations to curtail proliferation of illegal drugs,” they said.

In October 2017, the Senate minority bloc, along with 10 other senators, filed Senate Resolution No. 516 urging the government to stop the “senseless” killings, especially of children, under the Duterte regime.

The said Resolution was filed after the senseless killings of 17-year-old Kian Loyd delos Santos, 14-year-old Reynaldo de Guzman and 19-year-old Carl Angelo Arnaiz under the hands of the police sparked public outcry.

Prior to that, 45 United Nations member states called on the Philippine government to conduct a “thorough” investigation into extrajudicial killings in the country as part of its recommendation to the Philippine delegation during the Universal Periodic Review in Geneva, Switzerland in May 2017.

Various human rights advocates and other international bodies–including the Human Rights Watch, the Inter-parliamentary Union, and Liberal International, among others—have also criticized the Philippines for its bloody campaign against drugs that resulted in the death of thousands of individuals.