Lacson to Dela Rosa: Form special task force to probe vigilante killings

Camille Elemia
Lacson to Dela Rosa: Form special task force to probe vigilante killings

LeAnne Jazul

Senator Panfilo Lacson says the Philippine National Police should be 'more vigorous' in addressing the killings being linked to the war on drugs

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Panfilo Lacson urged Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa to form a special task force that would investigate the spate of vigilante killings in the country.

Lacson, a former PNP chief himself, expressed alarm over the rising number of unexplained killings, or deaths under investigation (DUIs), and the slow pace of police investigations.

The senator said the PNP should conduct “more vigorous” probes into the summary executions.

“Ang challenge sa PNP nito (for the PNP is), I would advise General Dela Rosa to form a special task group composed of intelligence and investigative personnel to address this particular issue, ‘yung DUI na sinasabi (the reported DUIs), deaths under investigation,” Lacson told reporters on Monday, December 12.

“Sa ngayon, masyadong maliit ang rate ng solution (Now, there is a really low solution rate). We want to see a more vigorous, more vigilant effort on the part of the PNP and NBI and the entire government, in addressing ang mga vigilante killings kasi nakakaalarma na rin (vigilante killings because these are already alarming),” he added.

The group, Lacson said, should include intelligence and investigative personnel from the PNP and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).

PNP and NBI, it should be a composite team, intelligence personnel and investigators, mga seasoned, para ma-address and get to the bottom of bakit dumami vigilante-style killings ng drug pushers, ang iba nag-surrender sa TokHang tapos napapatay pa (those seasoned officials to address and get to the bottom of why there is a rise in the vigilante killings of drug pushers, others already surrendered to TokHang but they were still killed). It doesn’t speak well of the peace and order efforts of the PNP,” he said.


There have been more than 5,800 deaths linked to the war on drugs, both from legitimate police operations and vigilante-style or unexplained killings.

Of the total number, Lacson said only around one-third was due to legitimate police operations. Two-thirds, he said, were perpetrated by vigilante groups.

“If we talk of [nearly] 6,000, that’s 4,000 in a matter of wala pang (less than) 6 months,” he said.

Lacson also expressed concern over the story of a New York Times photojournalist, showing 57 murder victims in just over 35 days in the country.

“Ang photojournalist na nag-post sa NYT, that says a lot. In his 35 days, ilan ang na-witness niya mismo na pinuntahan niya, 45 to 57 cases. Hintayin pa ba natin magkaroon ng masyadong maraming pressure from within and without, from the outside, na tungkol sa nangyayaring mga DUIs?”

(The photojournalist that posted on NYT, that says a lot. In his 35 days, he witnessed 45 to 57 cases. Do we wait for more intense pressure from within and the outside regarding these DUIs?)

Duterte on Sunday, December 11, again rejected allegations that the killings being linked to his war on drugs are state-sponsored.

In a speech in Tarlac City, the President denied ever ordering the police or the military to carry out summary executions. (READ: Duterte on killings: Do you think I enjoy that?)

Ayaw kong pumatay. Nasasaktan akong pumatay ng Pilipino. Ayaw ko, pareho tayo. (I don’t want Filipinos to get killed. It’s painful for me to see Filipinos dead. I don’t want that, like you.) …Do you think I enjoy [that]?” Duterte said.

“I do not allow extrajudicial [killings]… We do not do that. It’s a dirty job. At saka para kang hindi lalaki. Talian mo, balutin mo, it’s a form of torture, binabalot ng plastik. Hindi trabaho ng pulis ‘yan pati sundalo.”

(And it’s also as if you’re not man enough. Tie up a victim, wrap him in plastic, it’s a form of torture, wrapping in plastic. That’s not the work of policemen or soldiers.)

A joint committee report in the Senate previously said neither the state nor Duterte are sponsoring killings. (READ: Senate panels to Duterte: Follow the law)

It also said there is no conclusive evidence pointing to the existence of the alleged Duterte-backed vigilante group Davao Death Squad. –

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Camille Elemia

Camille Elemia is a former multimedia reporter for Rappler. She covered media and disinformation, the Senate, the Office of the President, and politics.