MANILA, Philippines – (UPDATED 1:52 P.M) While open to an investigation on the rash of killings in connection with the war on drugs, Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez believes it should not be blamed on the Duterte administration.
Echoing President Rodrido Duterte’s line, he said it could even be the work of the drug lords or some politicians to undermine the campaign against illegal drugs.
“Kailangan talagang imbestigahan iyon, kasi makikita natin yung proseso na sadyang itong mga minors… sunod-sunod eh, pinapatay. So anong motibo rito, hindi ba? Malinaw, para mag-aklas, magalit doon sa administrasyon [That really needs to be investigated, because we can see a certain deliberateness in killing these minors one after the other. So, what’s the motive here? Clearly, to get people to rise up, be angry at the administration],” he said in an interview with CNN Philippines.
“Malinaw na malinaw, maaring gawa ito ng… gawain ito ng mga drug lords para mahinto iyong kampanya against illegal drugs, or maaring gawain din ito ng politika. Dalawa ang possibilities dito. Pero para sabihin na gawa ito ng administrasyon, kalokohan iyon [Clearly, this could be the handiwork of drug lords to derail the campaign against illegal drugs. Or it could be the handiwork of politicians. Two possibilities here. But to say this is the work of the administration, that’s ridiculous],” Alvarez added.
Over the weekend, the President made an assertion that the recent spate of killings could be intended to sabotage his administration’s efforts against drug war and criminality. “Look deeper into it because you (PNP chief Ronald dela Rosa) are being sabotaged. It’s not the job of the police [to kill kids]. These killings were intentional,” Duterte had said.
The past few weeks, the Senate has been investigating the deaths of several minors, notably schoolboys Kian Lloyd delos Santos, Carl Angelo Arnaiz and Reynaldo de Guzman.
In the cases of Kian and Carl, two separate teams of Caloocan cops claimed they fought police as they resisted arrest and shot at them. CCTV and witness accounts in Kian’s case disputed this, though, indicating Kian was pinned between two policemen dragging him away at a basketball court during an anti-drugs sweep in his neighborhood on the night of August 17, moments before neighbors heard repeated shots and later saw him slumped dead.
In Carl’s case, he went missing for 10 days after telling family he would go out and buy midnight snack. They found him in a morgue later, with Caloocan cops claiming he was shot dead after firing at them during an arrest for a taxi hold-up. His companion-neighbor, Reynaldo de Guzman, also went missing, but the taxi driver whom police said had been Carl’s victim told reporters on Sunday he never saw Reynaldo; only a lone holdup man had robbed him at gunpoint.
The Speaker said there is a need to thoroughly investigate the incidents to find out if those behind the killings were drug lords or enemies of the administration. He said this, even if initial investigations had policemen admitting they killed Kian and Carl, albeit they were forced to do so in self-defense.
Several resolutions have been filed since last year calling for an inquiry into the killings linked to the drugs war. Resolutions were also filed recently to look into the death of Kian and Carl.
‘Where has the Speaker been?’
Sought for comment on the Speaker’s theory, Akbayan Rep. Tom Villarin said regardless of what Alvarez thinks, the House inquiry should get under way soon.
“Just do it. I think it is long overdue for the House to act on several resolutions on EJKs including two I co-sponsored. The killing of Kian and other minors show that the anti-drug war has gone haywire with the police as primary suspects. It has gone overboard as a culture of violence is foisted as a national policy by no less than President Duterte himself,” said Villarin.
He cautioned, though, against going down the road suggested by Duterte and Alvarez: “If the leadership would focus on just the angle of a perceived conspiracy to incite anger against the Duterte administration, it shows how myopic and paranoid they have become.” What is needed instead, added Villarin, is “an objective, impartial and thorough investigation into the killings as it relates to policy, legislation and organizational values it has imbibed in our institutions. The public demands an objective explanation not another unending investigation.”
For his part, Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano appeared taken aback by Alvarez’s spin and wondered aloud, “San ba nanggaling si Speaker for the past one year [Where has the Speaker been the past year]?”
Alejano continued, in reference to Alvarez: “Hindi ba siya aware na libo-libo na ang namatay sa war on drugs? Marami na ring ang napaslang na mga kabataan. Marami din ang gustong magtestigo na mga pamilya ng mga biktima. Meron ring nakunan ng CCTV. Maraming sektor at matagal na rin ang panawagan na imbestigahan ang alleged EJKs. Ngayon, gusto nang imbestigahan ang kaso ni Kian Delos Santos ngunit pinapahiwatig na kaagad na ito ay kagagawan ng drug lords o politicians para sabotahiin ang war on drugs ng administrasyon.”
[Doesn’t the Speaker know that thopusands have died in the war on drugs? Many teeners have been killed; many want to testify. There’s CCTV footage in some. Many sector have sought an investigation of the EJKs. Now that there’s a clamor to probe Kian’s case, suddenly they’re saying it could be the handiwork of drug lords and politicians].”
He said the inquiry should focus not just on Kian’s or a few cases, but all “victims of extra-judicial killings.”
Bent on cutting CHR budget to P1,000
Meanwhile, Alvarez stood pat on cutting the 2018 budget of the Commission on Human Rights to P1,000.
“Iyong mandato nila under the Constitution, hindi nila ginagawa. Ano yun? Para protektahan yung karapatang pantao ng lahat ng tao, hindi lang noong mga kriminal. Ngayon, gusto nila kriminal lang yung poprotektahan nila . . . ,[They are not carrying out their mandate under the Constitution. What is that? – to protect the human rights of people, not just of criminals. Now, it seems they just want to protect criminals],” he said.
“Ngayon, kung gusto mong protektahan yung rights ng mga kriminal, ay kumuha ka ng budget doon sa mga kriminal, ganoon lang kasimple yun. Bakit ka kumukuha ng budget sa gobyerno, hindi mo ginagawa yung tungkulin mo? [If you just want to protect rights of criminals, then get your budget from them; it’s that simple. Why do you get a budget from the government when you’re not doing your job?,” he added.
Told that the rights body could become useless with a mere P1,000 budget, Alvarez said, “Useless din naman sila ngayon [They’re useless right now, anyway].”