MANILA, Philippines – True to her word, Senator Leila de Lima filed a resolution urging the Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights to investigate the recent spike of drug users and pushers killed in police operations or through alleged summary executions.
"Regardless of the question of whether those killed were in fact criminals, precisely because there was no opportunity for them to be prosecuted before a court of law, the fight against crime is apparently becoming a looming state-sanctioned cover for a policy of summary executions and extrajudicial killings of any and all suspected criminals," De Lima said in a copy of the resolution sent to the media on Thursday, July 14.
"Extrajudicial or summary killing is homicide. Carried out premeditatedly and in conspiracy with other public authorities, it becomes mass murder, which, if left unabated and unchecked, can escalate into crime against humanity under international law," said the senator who is also expected to head the Senate's justice committee.
More than a hundred have died in what the Philippine National Police (PNP) calls "legitimate" anti-drugs operations in the country.
The PNP has said it is acting in line with President Rodrigo Duterte's promise to suppress crime within 3 to 6 months. (READ: #AnimatED: Blood on our streets)
But De Lima, who formerly chaired the Commission on Human Rights, said there were "telltale signs" of summary executions in some of the operations conducted by the police.
In her resolution, De Lima cited the growing number of suspected vigilante killings to justify her call for a Senate investigation on the war against drugs in aid of legislation.
This includes the incident when a father and son suspected to be drug users were killed by the Pasay City police in their detention cell after the two allegedly tried to overpower their police escort.
De Lima also cited the discovery of a man's corpse along EDSA earlier this week. The man's body was completely wrapped in packaging tape and was left with a sign saying, "Huwag ako tularan. Snatcher ako. Salot sa EDSA." (Don't be like me. I am a snatcher. Plague of EDSA.)
According to De Lima, the police previously justified the killing of suspects by saying there was a gunfight or the suspects tried to wrench weapons from the police.
"But, we know all too well of the several instances of police rub-outs, and the number of shortcuts taken by law enforcers in the guise of legitimate self-defense or defense of others. The use of force, it appears in a lot of cases, fails to comply with the legal criteria of absolute necessity and proportionality," said de Lima.
A copy of De Lima's Senate resolution is found below: