PHILIPPINE President Rodrigo Duterte has denied reports from human rights watchdog Amnesty International (AI) that accuse his administration of paying police officers “to kill thousands of alleged drug offenders in a wave of extrajudicial executions.”
“Bakit ba ako magbigay sa inyo para magpatay? Trabaho ninyo iyan. Gusto mo ikaw nalang patayin ko? Nabuang. Binabayaran ko? Ako? Magbayad sa pulis? (Why would I pay the police to kill? It’s their job. Do you want me to kill you? Crazy),” Duterte said in a speech on Friday, February 3.
Earlier this week, AI released its report, entitled “If you are poor you are killed: Extrajudicial Executions in the Philippine’s ‘War on Drugs.’”
The organization claimed that the police “systematically targeted mostly poor and defenseless people across the country while planting ‘evidence’, recruiting paid killers, stealing from the people they kill and fabricating official incident reports.”
“The police are behaving like the criminal underworld that they are supposed to be enforcing the law against, by carrying out extrajudicial executions disguised as unknown killers and ‘contracting out’ killings,” AI claimed.
Citing a testimony from a cop with the rank of Senior Police Officer 1, AI said in its report that policemen were paid at least P8,000 for every drug suspect they manage to kill.
“We always get paid by the encounter…The amount ranges from 8,000 pesos (US $161) to 15,000 pesos (US $302)… That amount is per head… We’re paid in cash, secretly, by headquarters…” the police officer said, as quoted in the report. “There’s no incentive for arresting. We’re not paid anything.”
Duterte admitted giving millions of intelligence funds for police anti-drug operations. He insisted, however, that these funds were used by undercover cops to “buy” drugs from pushers in order to catch them in act.
“How much did I give? P150 million intelligence fund, Crame. ‘Yun ‘yong, ‘Sige magbili kayo nang magbili. Huli nang uli.’ O nakita mo ngayon, sabihin na binibigyan daw sila ng P5,000 kada [patay] (It was for, ‘Okay, you buy and buy. Catch and catch.’ Now, see, they are saying police are given P5,000 per [kill]),” Duterte said.
The president said that the funds were likely pocketed by scalawag police officers who claims that it is the government’s reward for killing drug suspects.
“‘Yang mga ‘yan, binibigyan ng pera para magkakaroon ng transaksyon. Kalabas-labasan ngayon, binayad daw sa kanila. Ibig sabihin binulsa ninyo. ‘Di niyo binigay ang droga, ang pera. Pinatay ninyo, walang kaso (That money is for transactions. Now, what they’re saying is it’s used to pay them. It means you pocketed the money. You didn’t surrender the drugs. You killed the person, no trial),” Duterte added.
Since Duterte took office last July, the number of people killed in drug-related cases has reached 7,000, according to the Philippine National Police (PNP), with least 2,250 reportedly killed during legitimate operations.
The majority of these killings, according to AI, “may amount to crimes against humanity.”
AI’s reports came a couple of days after Duterte’s order to pull the PNP from anti-illegal drug operations nationwide to focus on “internal cleansing.”
Duterte made the order amid the controversial death of South Korean businessman Jee Ick-Joo, who was abducted from his home in Pampanga, along with his house help, reportedly under the guise of an anti-illegal drug operation last October 18, 2016.
Earlier this year, the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) pronounced Jee dead. The Department of Justice (DOJ) later revealed that he was allegedly killed by policemen inside the PNP’s main headquarters in Quezon City.
Duterte later said that the anti-illegal drug enforcement powers would be transferred to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).
Reacting to AI’s claims, Malacañang reiterated that the extrajudicial killings in the country are not sanctioned by the state — the same conclusion made by the Senate committees on justice, and public order and dangerous drugs.
“Their joint investigation of deaths during police anti-drug operations shows there is no state-sponsored policy of extrajudicial deaths and that there is relentless effort on the part of the PNP to carry out the campaign properly and within legal processes,” Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella pointed out.
He also said that an estimated 1.1 million drug personalities have already surrendered in relation to the PNP’s anti-drug operation, Oplan Double Barrel.
“The same operations have yielded 53,025 arrests and neutralized 2,555 drug personalities,” Abella added.
PNP chief Director General Roland “Bato” Dela Rosa, for his part, also denied that the PNP is paying cops to kill drug suspects. He said the government does not have the funds to pay killers.
“Ang PNP wala pong funding para sa mga ganoon (The PNP has no funding for that),” Dela Rosa said. “[For] all you know paninira na naman ‘yan sa administrasyong Duterte (it is just propaganda to destroy the reputation of the Duterte administration).”