Is DOJ turning a blind eye to EJKs? De Lima and Aguirre exchange claims

Lian Buan

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Is DOJ turning a blind eye to EJKs? De Lima and Aguirre exchange claims
"I've always been relevant. How can concern for EJKs and our rights be ever irrelevant?" says Senator Leila de Lima responding to Secretary Aguirre's criticism.

MANILA, Philippines – Detained Senator Leila de Lima on Friday, July 21 reiterated she has “information from reliable sources” that Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II issued a directive to his prosecutors not to “file a case against any law enforcement official enforcing the administration’s war on drugs.”

“I have that information from reliable sources,” was De Lima’s short reply before she was whisked away by jail officers after her hearing on Friday at the Quezon City Metropolitan Trial Court (MeTC).

The supposed information became De Lima’s basis to file a complaint against Aguirre before the Office of the Ombudsman for violation of Article 208 of the Revised Penal Code or negligence in prosecution and toleration of criminal offenses. (READ: De Lima presents testimonies of ‘coerced witnesses’ in complaint vs Aguirre)

“This is the reason why up to the present, and after more than 7,000 deaths, not a single case of PNP (Philippine National Police) killing or ‘death under investigation’ recorded by the PNP itself as drug-related killings, other than those cases exposed in the Senate EJK hearings, was ever investigated or prosecuted by the NBI (National Bureau of Investigation) and the NPS under respondent DOJ Secretary,” De Lima’s complaint said.

Aguirre’s answer

“There is absolutely no such directive because if there was, that would be illegal. Her statement is perjurious and even libelous,” Aguirre told Rappler in a text message on Friday.

Data provided by the Department of Justice (DOJ) show that as of March 27, 2017, there are 219 verified cases of EJKs. This is the DOJ’s latest count, according to Undersecretary Erickson Balmes.

EJK. Data from the DOJ show there were 219 "verified" cases of extrajudicial killings (EJKS) as of March 27, 2017.

Such cases are handled by the Inter-Agency Committee on Extra-Legal Killings, Enforced Disappearances, Torture and Other Grave Violations of the Right to Life, Liberty and Security of Persons.

Of the 219 EJK cases recorded as of March 27, 3 were under preliminary investigation by the NPS which is under Aguirre.

21 cases were on trial, 64 have been archived and 76 have been terminated. Rappler will update this story once DOJ provides more recent figures. 

There is also a Department Order issued in February directing the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to thoroughly investigate EJKs.

‘Trying to be relevant’

Aguirre criticized De Lima’s Ombudsman complaint against him, dismissing it as just the Senator “trying to be relevant.”

On Friday, De Lima said: “I’ve always been relevant. How can concern for EJKs and our rights be ever irrelevant?” 



The Senator said local authorities continue to turn a blind eye to EJKs and lauded the efforts of US lawmakers, which conducted a hearing early Friday Manila time to tackle President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs and the alleged human rights violations committed since.

“Human rights issues are universal, the entire world must monitor what’s happening in our country particularly on the issue of human rights. So kailangan lang, since local authorities natin ay hindi gumagawa ng hakbang para seryoso talagang tingnan ang mga araw araw na patayan o EJKs. It’s about time that external authorities, also those who fight for human rights na makialam,” De Lima said.

(There’s really a need, since our local authorities are not taking steps to seriously look into the daily killings or EJKs. It’s about time that external authorities, also those who fight for human rights, to get involved.)

De Lima again hit Duterte ahead of the President’s second State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Monday.

“Anong puwede niyang ipagmalaki sa SONA, mga patayan? Mga kasinungalingan? Paalala lang po sa kanya, lampas lampas na po ang kanyang deadline na 3-6 months. ‘Yung droga nandyan pa rin, bumalik nga sa bilibid. Bakit? Kasi hinayaan nilang mamayagpag ang mga drug lord na yan, in exchange dun sa pag testify nila sa akin,” De Lima said.

(What will he report in his SONA? The killings? The lies? May I just remind him, his deadline of 3-6 months has lapsed. Drugs is still there, it’s back in Bilibid. Why? Because they let drug lords rule the jails in exchange of their testimonies against me.)

De Lima attended her hearing at the QC MeTC on Friday in her disobedience to summons case filed against her by lawmakers for supposedly coercing Ronnie Dayan to snub the congressional hearing last year on the proliferation of drugs inside Bilibid.

Friday’s hearing was reset to August due to a contention on the technical admissibility of the affidavit of Mindoro Representative Reynaldo Umali, one of the witnesses against De Lima. –

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Lian Buan

Lian Buan is a senior investigative reporter, and minder of Rappler's justice, human rights and crime cluster.