De Lima seeks Senate probe into spate of drug-related killings in Central Luzon

Camille Elemia
De Lima seeks Senate probe into spate of drug-related killings in Central Luzon
'It is urgent to investigate this apparent shift of focus to Central Luzon and to assess the strategy pursued by the administration’s drug war'

MANILA, Philippines – Opposition Senator Leila de Lima has sought a Senate investigation into the increase of drug-related killings in Central Luzon due to the Philippine National Police’s anti-illegal drug operations.

De Lima filed Senate Resolution No. 1041, citing the “unprecedented record of deaths” in Central Luzon. (READ: Central Luzon: New killing fields in Duterte’s drug war)

De Lima said there is a need to probe if state authorities are using the drug war and their positions as “license to commit human right violations and other illegal acts.”

“It is urgent to investigate this apparent shift of focus to Central Luzon and to assess the strategy pursued by the administration’s drug war,” De Lima said.

“It is also imperative to look into the factual and legal issues relating to these killings and determine whether these killings were products of legitimate police operations; the rights of suspects or persons subject of operations have been observed; and existing procedures on arrest, seizure and arrest have been complied with,” she said.

PNP data obtained by Rappler showed that in 2018, 29.6% of all drug suspects, or 542, who were killed in police operations in the country came from Central Luzon alone.

This was in stark contrast to National Capital Region, which recorded only a little more than half of Central Luzon’s figure. There were 285 killings listed in NCR, accounting for 15.57% of drug operation kills in 2018.

De Lima also cited PNP data showing a low number of seized illegal drugs in Central Luzon. Region 3 cops only hauled 11.98 kilos of shabu, way lower than that of Metro Manila police’s 143.85 kilos.

Asked for an explanation, PNP chief Director General Oscar Albayalde said the rapid rise of killings in Region 3 was because its police commanders were working hard.

Under the Duterte administration’s drug war, De Lima said about 28,176 individuals were killed – 5,176 of whom were considered “drug personalities” while 23,000 were victims under the category of “homicide cases under investigation.” – 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