De Lima bill seeks creation of council vs extrajudicial killings

Camille Elemia
De Lima bill seeks creation of council vs extrajudicial killings
The bill, if approved, would also prohibit policemen from firing warning shots during an operation and would require them to submit post-operation reports

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Leila de Lima, one of President Rodrigo Duterte’s staunchest critics, filed a bill against extrajudicial killings, the biggest controversy hounding the administration.

De Lima filed Senate Bill Number 1197 or the Anti-Extrajudicial Killing Act of 2016 on Tuesday, October 11.

The measure defines extrajudicial killing as the “the unlawful, and deliberate killing of targeted individuals or groups thereof, carried out by agents of the State and under its order or acquiescence in lieu of arrest, investigation and prosecution.”

It also includes “summary killing perpetrated by private individuals for purposes of carrying out on their own or in the context of vigilantism, a campaign or policy of the State.”

The senator proposed the creation of an Inter-Agency Council Against Extrajudicial Killings, which will be headed by the Justice Secretary.

This council, De Lima said in a statement, would coordinate with the Philippine National Police (PNP), National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), and Commission on Human Rights (CHR) to follow “minimum standards” in law enforcement operations.

These “minimum standards” include:

  1. In conducting arrest, warning shall be issued by announcing the same through a megaphone. Firing of warning shots is absolutely prohibited. 
  2. Use of force when employed shall be proportionate, and shall be allowed only when there is clear and convincing attempt to evade arrest.
  3. Alternative non-lethal incapacitating weapons shall be the primary tool to effect arrest when there is resistance.
  4. It shall be mandatory for the team leader of every police operation to submit an after-operation report. 

The bill also mandates the CHR to investigate killings on its own or based on complaints filed before the office.

Penalties for extrajudicial killings

Under De Lima’s bill, any public officer or private individual found guilty of extrajudicial killings would face life imprisonment without parole.

Public officials who fail to prevent, investigate, or file necessary actions in court would also face administrative charges.

As for the families of victims, De Lima proposes that they receive compensation not lower than P10,000.

De Lima and Duterte have long been at odds over the issue of human rights. De Lima, former CHR chairperson, launched a probe into Duterte’s alleged involvement in the Davao Death Squad.

This went on when she was justice secretary. Recently, she drew the ire of the President anew when she led the Senate investigation into the spate of extrajudicial killings under Duterte amid his intense fight against illegal drugs. (READ: De Lima witness: Duterte ‘ordered’ killings in Davao)

Duterte’s allies, in turn, launched a counter-probe at the House of Representatives, which looked into De Lima’s alleged role in the proliferation of illegal drugs in the national penitentiary. – 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