MANILA, Philippines – Contradicting the Philippine National Police (PNP), Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano falsely claimed in an Al Jazeera interview that all 3,800 Filipinos killed in the Duterte administration’s war on drugs were drug dealers.
In the Al Jazeera interview uploaded on Friday, October 6, award-winning British journalist Mehdi Hasan cited cited PNP figures that said 3,850 Filipinos died in police operations from July 1, 2016 to September 16, 2017.
The PNP itself does not label them as proven drug dealers, only as suspects. After all, in Philippine law, a person is presumed innocent until proven guilty.
What the PNP says is that they shot these Filipinos for allegedly resisting arrest – a claim that, in the first place, is doubted by half of the respondents in a recent Social Weather Stations survey.
“So every single one of the 3 and a half thousand people who were killed was a drug dealer?” Hasan asked Cayetano.
“Yes,” the foreign secretary answered.
“How do we know that? You didn’t try them. You didn’t prosecute them. You didn’t charge them. You shot them on site. That’s not a democratic way of solving crime, is it?” Hasan replied.
Cayetano evaded the question. He started talking about self-defense when the host was asking for proof that “every single one” of the 3,800 Filipinos was a drug dealer.
Cayetano said: “You’re absolutely saying it as if you’re not on the ground. Come and look. If I pull a gun on you, here, right now, and you shoot me, it’s your fault? Or my fault?”
Hasan repeated his question: “That’s not what I asked. I said 3 and a half thousand people have been killed by the police. Are they all criminal drug dealers?”
Cayetano again answered yes, but Hasan pointed out that “normally,” the procedure is to put drug suspects on trial first.
“So you mean in the US or even in any country your show is shown, if someone pulls a gun on the police, they have to bring them to court first before they fire back? The police are doing what they can,” the foreign secretary insisted. (READ: TRANSCRIPT: Al Jazeera host grills Cayetano on drug war)
(Watch Cayetano’s Al Jazeera interview in the video below)
Can PNP be trusted?
Hasan then asked Cayetano if the Philippine police can be trusted even if President Rodrigo Duterte “doesn’t trust them.”
“President Duterte said: ‘You policemen are the most corrupt, you are corrupt to the core, it’s in your system.’ That doesn’t sound like rogue. ‘It’s in your system’,” Hasan quoted Duterte, who said this in January when he ordered the “cleansing” of the PNP.
But Cayetano defended the President by saying that “hyperbole and figures of speech are allowed.”
“We’re not saying we should trust them. We said we should follow the law which is presumption of regularity, but investigate,” Cayetano said, referring to the PNP.
Hasan then asked how many investigations have already been conducted regarding the “3 and a half thousand killings.”
“Three and a half thousand,” Cayetano answered. “Every single one of them is being investigated.”
When Hasan pointed out that most independent observers have said there have not been investigations at all, Cayetano said this is not true and that independent investigators have, in fact, “seen the progress.”
“It is the ideological and the biased human rights groups, they said there are 3,000 cases, they pick out 28 cases, no scientific method of picking out 28, they only interviewed the families of the death of the alleged pushers. They did not interview anyone from the government. So is that fair to you?” Cayetano said.
He said these groups consider any country that does not legalize the possession of drugs as not handling the drug problem properly.
Cayetano went on to discuss the effects of methamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu on drug users, to which Hasan replied: “Shouldn’t you treat these people, not just shoot them in the head?… Do you agree it’s better to treat drug addicts than shoot them in the head?” he added. (READ: Drug addiction is a health problem. Somebody please tell the President.)
“Yes, but if they have a gun and they’re gonna shoot you…” Cayetano said before Hasan cut him mid-sentence to ask if all 3,850 who died during police operations had guns.
“Yes. More than that,” Cayetano answered. “Come to the Philippines and see, because you’re talking from space with what you’re saying now.”
“Come to the Philippines and see whether it’s safer now.” (READ: Iceland, nearly 40 states hit ‘climate of impunity’ in PH) – Rappler.com