Shoot on sight? ‘Di na dapat ‘yan, di na uso ‘yan’ – De Lima

Camille Elemia
Shoot on sight? ‘Di na dapat ‘yan, di na uso ‘yan’ – De Lima
Another senator, former PNP chief Panfilo Lacson, says 'shoot on sight' is 'clearly murder' unless done in self-defense

MANILA, Philippines –  President Rodrigo Duterte’s “shoot on sight” order against Albuera Mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr and son Kerwin, alleged drug peddlers, is only justifiable if the lives of civilians and law enforcers are endangered, senators said on Wednesday, August 3.

Senator Leila De Lima, chairperson of the Senate committee on justice and human rights, said Duterte – a lawyer and former prosecutor – knows the law.

Asked about the President’s fiery statement, the neophyte senator said:
“Alam po ng Pangulo kung anong naaayon sa batas. That’s all I can say. ‘Yung shoot to kill, para sa akin, kasi hindi na dapat ‘yan, ‘di na uso ‘yan.”

(The President knows what’s legal. That’s all I can say. For me, the shoot to kill order should no longer be, it’s no longer acceptable.)

The former justice secretary and Commission on Human Rights chairperson maintained that the order would be justifiable only as “the last resort” or if the suspect uses force against authorities.

“But siguro (perhaps), we can interpret it in such manner that…of course there could be resistance, if ever there is no voluntary surrender and force was used by the subject of the operation like that mayor. Then, justified ‘yan (that’s justified). But per the PNP operation guidelines, that’s the last resort – the use of force,” De Lima said.

In a statement on Monday, August 1, Duterte said should the Espinosas fail to surrender within his 24-hour deadline, a “shoot on sight” order would be issued against them.

Mere hours after Duterte’s threat, the mayor “surrendered” to PNP chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa. His son remains in hiding.

Despite the absence of a warrant of arrest, Dela Rosa warned Kerwin to “surrender or die.

No such thing

Senator Panfilo Lacson, a former PNP chief, shared De Lima’s view that such an order can only be justified by self-sefense.

“There’s no such thing. Whatever bravado is involved in that statement, it’s just that. Because being a law enforcement officer, alam ni General dela Rosa (he knows) there is no such thing as ‘shoot on sight’ or ‘shoot to kill,’” Lacson said in a mix of English and Filipino.

“The only justification for killing a person is in self-defense or in defense of a stranger or another person,” he added.

Otherwise, the killings would be considered murder, the senator said.

“But kung gawin nila ‘yun, maliwanag na murder ‘yun. Shoot on sight – nakakita ka ng tao, just because pinagsuspetsyahan at dineklara ng Pangulo na ito drug lord at kailangan patayin on sight, at ginawa mismo ng police, ah iyon talaga ang violation of the law,” he said.

(But if they do that, that’s clearly murder. Shoot on sight – you see a person, just because the President declared he is a drug lord and orders him killed and the police actually did it, that’s really a violation of the law.)

Lacson, however, is confident that Dela Rosa, his former subordinate in the now defunct Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Task Force (PAOCTF), is well aware of the PNP’s laws and guidelines.

“Ano mang motibo, sa kanya na ‘yun but alam niya na hindi niya pupuwede gawin ‘yun. ‘Di puwede gawin ng maski sinong pulis na basta pumatay on sight,” Lacson said.

(Whatever his motive is, that’s up to him, but he knows that he cannot just do that. No policeman can do that, to just kill anybody on sight.)

Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III, for his part, defended Duterte’s statement, saying the President meant no harm.

Hindi wala naman ganun. Ano ‘yun, (No, it’s nothing like that. It’s like) implied that if there is resistance and danger in the lives of the law enforcers, then follow protocol. ‘Yun lang ‘yun (That’s about it),” Pimentel said. – Rappler.com

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Camille Elemia

Camille Elemia is Rappler's lead reporter for media, disinformation issues, and democracy. She won an ILO award in 2017. She received the prestigious Fulbright-Hubert Humphrey fellowship in 2019, allowing her to further study media and politics in the US. Email camille.elemia@rappler.com