State-sponsored extra-judicial killings (EJKs) do not exist in the country, the new Philippine National Police (PNP) chief General Camilo Cascolan said today in a media briefing at Camp Crame in Quezon City.
Thousands of drug suspects have reportedly died at the hands of the PNP ever since President Rodrigo Duterte launched his bloody drug war in 2016. On at least one occasion, the president publicly ordered a top PNP official to “kill everybody” who is suspected to be involved in illegal drugs.
And in 2017, at least 32 people were killed in Bulacan province, leading Duterte to tell the police to “kill another 32 [suspects] every day.”
Despite Duterte’s bloodthirsty instructions to the police, Cascolan insisted that EJKs do not happen.
“First, if you have that notion, come to me, we will investigate. Number two, there’s no such thing as EJK. That’s nothing. Everything, the people, the PNP has actually fought hard to really reduce illegal drugs, and it’s [an act of] survival for our people,” he said.
The police chief countered the allegation by saying that even members of the PNP have been killed due to the drug war.
“There are a lot of PNP officers who have already died. Some are even PNP officers. Some are so young. But they do their jobs because they are passionate enough to stop or rid this country of illegal drugs. If there are cases that you know, file a case,” he said.
“There’s no such truth when it comes to EJK because EJK is state-sponsored [but] will the President sponsor state killing? No. Will other people in the government do that? No. I don’t believe so,” he added.
The PNP often says that many suspects die during drug raids because they fought back (“nanlaban“). However, the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights reported in June that cops habitually plant guns on drug suspects’ bodies, as well as methamphetamine. In one example, the organization found that “that the police repeatedly recovered guns bearing the same serial numbers from different victims in different locations.”
Meanwhile, a report released by the International Criminal Court in December 2019 said that suspects had been tortured, people were forced to watch their loved ones die, and police officers were raping women as part of the drug campaign. The court is currently conducting a “preliminary examination” into Duterte’s drug war; the government had said that the court’s investigators would either be blocked from entering the country or be deported.