Duterte-allied Makabayan bloc wants probe into extrajudicial killings

MANILA, Philippines – The Makabayan bloc, which is part of the majority in the House of Representatives, urged the House leadership to act on resolutions calling for a probe into alleged extrajudicial killings linked to the drug war.

Lawmakers belonging to the leftist bloc filed House Resolution 1209 on Tuesday, August 22, calling on the House to investigate the death of 17-year-old Kian delos Santos during a police drug raid in Caloocan City.

The resolution was introduced by Bayan Muna Representative Carlos Zarate, Gabriela representatives Emmi de Jesus and Arlene Brosas, ACT Teachers representatives Antonio Tinio and France Castro, Anakpawis Representative Ariel Casilao, and Kabataan Representative Sarah Elago.

"Nananawagan ako sa leadership ng House na i-schedule agad ang hearing sa issue na ito (I appeal to the House leadership to schedule a hearing on this issue immediately)," said Tinio in a news briefing on Thursday, August 24.

The campaign of the Philippine National Police (PNP) against illegal drugs has been under renewed scrutiny following massive operations in Bulacan and parts of Metro Manila that claimed the lives of more than 80 drug suspects.

Delos Santos, police claim, was a drug runner who fought back ("nanlaban") during the operation. But CCTV camera footage and witnesses' testimonies contradict this narrative. Delos Santos was apparently dragged by non-uniformed policemen into a dark alley, handed a gun, told to run, and then shot dead.

According to the autopsy report by the Public Attorney's Office (PAO), Delos Santos had 3 bullet wounds. But according to the PNP, only two wounds were found.

The 17-year-old has tested negative for nitrates, countering the PNP's claim that he fired shots at them. Zarate said the case "undermines" the drug war.

This is not the first resolution filed calling for a probe into alleged summary executions linked to the drug war.

The Makabayan bloc in August 2016 filed a similar resolution. Liberal Party-allied lawmakers, belonging to both the majority and minority, have also filed resolutions – in August 2016 and August 2017 – calling for an inquiry.

All resolutions have yet to be acted upon. The two filed in 2016 are pending before the House committee on rules.

De Jesus acknowledged some colleagues in the House would find ways to "slow down" the progress of the resolution.

"Puwede nga itong sumambulat sa mukha nila dahil marami na talaga nag-e-express ng kanilang galit at magbubukas talaga ito ng Pandora's Box sa likod ng mga patayan," she said.

(This may just explode in their faces because there are a lot of people expressing anger and this might open a Pandora's Box in the midst of killings.)

Congress – both the Senate and the House of Representatives – are dominated by allies of President Rodrigo Duterte.

Senators in the majority, however, have successfully pushed for a legislative probe into the spate of alleged summary killings at the hands of police. – Rappler.com