MANILA, Philippines – Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III slammed the Philippine National Police and its chief, Director General Ronald dela Rosa, for the continued killings in the country.
Pimentel issued the statement after the killing of Councilor Melchor Arago of Puerto Galera, Oriental Mindoro, and his 15-year old son by unidentified gunmen on Tuesday, October 3.
“This is yet another murder by the now usual modus operandi of motorcycle-riding gunmen. Where is the peace and order that [PNP Chief] dela Rosa says the people are ungrateful for?” Pimentel said in a statement on Thursday, October 5, referring to Dela Rosa’s statement calling drug war critics as “ingrates.”
Arago, 52, was inside his car in front of his house,when two motorcycle-riding men shot him. The gunmen also shot his son, Kenneth, after being spotted going out of the house.
Pimentel urged the PNP to “shape up," saying the PNP’s failures allow the proliferation of criminals.
“Criminals are being emboldened by what they see as the incompetence of the PNP in catching them,” he said.
“The Filipino people deserve a modern, professional, and capable police force. Right now, the PNP is none of the above. We need to take radical action to change this state of affairs," Pimentel said.
Some critics, however, argue that President Rodrigo Duterte’s statements are responsible for the rise in killings, some of which are led by police themselves.
The PNP claims there have been 6,225 drug-related deaths between July 2016 and September 2017: 2,290 deaths under investigation, 3,850 deaths during police operations, and 85 police or military personnel killed in action.
But human rights and international groups claim the number of drug-related deaths is higher than government data.
Pimentel denounced the large number of unexplained killings or “deaths under investigations” and called it “unacceptable.”
“One homicide is one unnecessary death too many. Add the large number of unsolved killings, made worse by some of the victims being minors, and you start wondering what the police is there for,” he said.
Pimentel has repeatedly defended the administration’s bloody drug war. He was also among those who agreed with Senator Richard Gordon’s committee report that said there are no state-sponsored killings.
He is among the 7 senators who were unable to sign the resolution against the killings of minors, which caused conflict in the chamber.
Pimentel is a staunch ally of Duterte and is the president of the ruling PDP-Laban. – Rappler.com
Camille Elemia is Rappler's lead reporter for media, disinformation, 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 email@example.com