THE Palace on Thursday urged the UN Special Rapporteur on Summary Killings, Agnes Callamard, to look into the deaths of law enforcers as well as those of drug suspects in the government’s war on illegal drugs, as it awaited the envoy’s reply to an invitation to visit the Philippines.
At a news briefing, Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella said the Palace was still waiting for Callamard’s response to an official invitation from Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea.
“In its invitation, the Palace also urged—and I think it is notable—the UN rapporteur to include in her investigation the killings of law enforcers by drug suspects so she could obtain an accurate perspective of the drug problem in the country,” he said.
In his letter to Callamard, Medialdea said the Philippines has been in the international limelight, albeit in a negative way, since President Rodrigo Duterte came to power and the number of drug-related killings started to rise.
Medialdea asked the UN Special Rapporteur to come to the Philippines and see for herself the true situation on the ground.
“Maybe, it is appropriate for us to recall the President’s pronouncement in his inaugural speech that the sale, use and proliferation of illegal drugs shall be stopped by all means that the law allows,” Medialdea said.
Expressing his openness to subject himself to a “garbage probe” by human rights bodies, President Duterte had earlier vowed to step down from office if his critics could prove there had been state-sanctioned killings in the country.
“If there were [state-sanctioned] killings, I will resign tonight. I’ll give you my resignation,” Duterte told reporters.
“I’m not a fool to keep the presidency. Truth to tell, I don’t want [the presidency].”
In his invitation, Duterte said any probe should follow his own conditions.
“From my experience, they will get the report from Human Rights Watch, the report in Davao [City when he was mayor there], and the report here where I am President and they will ask me questions,” Duterte said.
“Then, after that, they will make a report to their commission and then it goes to the assembly. Then it is deliberated on [and] what will be my participation? The report they will be getting would be all garbage coming from [Senator Leila] De Lima.”
Callamard said she would insist on a range of measures to ensure that those who spoke with her did not face retribution.
“The date and scope of the fact-finding mission will be discussed and negotiated with the government, along with essential guarantees,” she said.
“I welcome the reports recently [conveyed] through the media that the president and government of the Philippines will invite a UN mission to investigate the alleged extrajudicial executions,” Callamard said.
De Lima on Tuesday filed a bill that would impose new restrictions on police to prevent extrajudicial killings.
Under her bill, police about to arrest a suspect must issue a warning using a megaphone. Warning shots will be strictly prohibited.
In her bill, De Lima enumerated the following minimum standards that should be observed by the police when conducting arrests, raids, searches and seizures. She said the “necessity of force test” should be the principal rule in police intervention operations.
“Use of force when employed shall be proportionate, and shall be allowed only when there is clear and convincing attempt to evade arrest,” said De Lima.
She noted that alternative non-lethal incapacitating weapons would be the primary tool to effect arrest when there is resistance.
The bill defines extrajudicial killing as the “unlawful, and deliberate killing of targeted individuals or groups thereof, carried out by agents of the State and under its order or acquiescence in lieu of arrest, investigation and prosecution.
“Extrajudicial killing includes summary killing perpetrated by private individuals for purposes of carrying out on their own or in the context of vigilantism, a campaign or policy of the State,” said De Lima in her bill.
The penalty of life imprisonment without the benefit of parole will be imposed against public officers, persons in authority, agents of a person in authority, or private individuals found guilty of extrajudicial killing as defined in the bill.
“Public officials, who would fail to prevent, investigate, or file necessary actions in court against those suspected of having committed an extrajudicial killing would also be administratively held liable,” the bill adds.
Official figures showed that, as of last Oct. 10, about 3,844 people have so far died since the government’s war against drugs was launched on July 1. Of these,1,550 died in police operations while 2,294 were extrajudicial or vigilante-style killings.
Under De Lima’s bill, the Commission on Human Rights will also have the authority to investigate cases on its own, without a complaint.
Also, the National Bureau of Investigation will be mandated to make relevant services available to the CHR and/or the Philippine National Police in their inquiries or investigation of extrajudicial killings.