MANILA, Philippines – Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II launched fresh tirades against critics of the administration's drug war as he questioned their "focus" on the death of 17-year-old Kian delos Santos.
At the Senate hearing on Delos Santos' death on Thursday, August 24, Aguirre asked human rights groups why they are not as vocal whenever drug addicts kill or rape victims, echoing his statements at a House budget hearing on Wednesday, August 23.
"Bakit 'yung sa Bulacan, mayroong ni-rape na babae tapos may 3 minor, bakit ni isa walang dumalaw? Even one from human rights. [But] the (human rights) chairman went to the wake of Kian yesterday. So 'yun po disproportionate; parang 'di pantay. Anong diperensya ng pinatay na bata ng mga adik sa pinatay na bata ng mga pulis?" Aguirre said.
(In Bulacan, a woman was raped and 3 minors were killed. Why didn't any of the critics visit their wake? Even one from human rights. But the human rights chairman went to the wake of Kian yesterday. That is disproportionate; it's not equal. What's the difference between a child killed by an addict and a child killed by police?)
"Dapat ipagtanggol mo rin 'yung ibang pinapatay (You should also defend others being killed)," he added.
Aguirre claimed many critics were just using Delos Santos' death to hit the administration and President Rodrigo Duterte.
"Everybody sumakay po lahat dito eh, lalong-lalo na po 'yung nasa human rights groups. 'Yun pong mga group na walang nakita kung hindi parating masama ang Pangulong Aquino," he said before correcting himself and adding, "Pangulong Duterte."
(Everybody is riding on this, especially the human rights groups. Those groups who see nothing but bad things about President Aquino – President Duterte.)
Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, a former justice secretary, later lectured Aguirre on the difference of the two killings.
"In Bulacan, it is the duty of the police officer to arrest the culprit, who allegedly is a drug addict. In the particular case of Kian, it is the state agents themselves who took the life of a 17-year-old boy and I hope you see the difference there," Drilon told Aguirre.
Drilon also called out Aguirre for his "biased" view on the killings, adding that the Cabinet official apparently aimed to "protect" the police.
"An ordinary mind would readily conclude, you are not impartial anymore insofar as investigation is concerned. Talaga pong ang bias ninyo (Your bias really) is so obvious – your bias to protect the policemen is so obvious. I don't see any indication that you are trying to seek a neutral path here," Drilon said.
Drilon then asked Aguirre if he would be willing to transfer the case to the Office of the Ombudsman to allay fears of a biased investigation by the Department of Justice, but Aguirre said allowing this would make the DOJ appear incapable of carrying out an impartial probe. – Rappler.com
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 firstname.lastname@example.org