Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday, September 5 ordered the police to allow journalists to join law enforcers in their anti-illegal drug operations.
Duterte issued the order to disprove the growing allegations of state-sanctioned killings in his heavily-criticized campaign against illegal drugs.
“Now, this is an order: Bring the media and let them go first so that they can get the story from the beginning to the end. If you allow them in and the gunbattle is over, you’ll just say ‘Ah, they just dumped the guns on the suspects,’” Duterte said after a public hearing into the death of 17-year-old Kian Delos Santos.
He added, “If you get shot, will you still believe that those (suspects) have no guns? Go ahead.”
Delos Santos’s death sparked public outrage as witnesses gave testimonies and supported evidence, including a CCTV footage, that the victim was dragged in a dark alley and pleaded for his life during a police raid on August 16.
The autopsy of the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) and the probe of the National Bureau Investigation (NBI) also suggested that Delos Santos may have been executed.
Police contended that the victim violently resisted arrest and pulled a gun on the officers. They also denied that it was the Kian who was seen being dragged in the CCTV footage.
The hearing also touched the death of Carl Arnaiz, a 19-year-old who was killed by policemen in an alleged shoot-out along C3 Road in Navotas after allegedly robbing a taxi driver on August 18.
The PAO autopsy results, however, suggested that Arnaiz was kneeling when he was initially shot, then was killed with more shots after he was lying on the ground. The victim suffered three gunshot wounds to the middle of his chest — one to the left side of his chest, and one to the back of his arm.
Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Director Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa defended his men from allegations of state-sanctioned killings.
“Wala kaming pinapairal na policy na malawakang pagpatay — mamatay man ako ngayon (We are not implementing a policy of extensive killings — even if I die today),” an emotional Dela Rosa reiterated during the hearing.
The PNP chief also maintained Duterte has no orders to kill and accusing Senator Risa Hontiveros — who said there seemed to be a “pattern” of killings of drug suspects — and other critics of the administration’s war on drugs of being “closed-minded.”
“I am grieving for majority of my men, ‘yung buhay nila [nakataya] tapos ia-accuse mo kami ng polisiya na ganoon. Masakit. Magpakamatay kami para sa inosenteng tao. Napakahirap naman sabihin na polisiya (I am grieving for majority of my men, their lives are on the line, then you will accuse us of such a policy. It hurts. We give up our lives for innocent people. It’s so hard to hear you say it’s a policy),” Dela Rosa added. (Dana Sioson/AJPress)