By Mario Casayuran
The Senate minority bloc linked up Monday with the majority bloc of Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III in facing up to the reality that alleged extra judicial killings (EJKs) under the Duterte administration appear to be spinning out of control.
Whether or not the opposition Liberal Party (LP) is politicizing the killing of Kian de los Santos, 17, the fact remains that 81 persons were killed in anti-illegal drug operations in a matter of three days in Bulacan, Manila and the Camanava area is “a matter of national concern,” Sen. Francis Pangilinan, LP president, said.
Critics of the Duterte administration had claimed that there are more than 7,000 persons listed as casualties in alleged anti-illegal drugs operations or EJKs since last year but police authorities claimed the actual casualty statistics in legitimate police operations was over 2,000.
Although the Senate majority bloc belatedly woke up to the increasing number of supposed drug addicts and pushers killed since last year that has placed the Philippines in international spotlight, Pangilinan said it is time for the Senate as an institution to uphold its constitutional check and balance function.
Senators belonging to the majority bloc met Sunday night based on the call of Pimentel to address the Kian killing, other EJKs and the ability of drug syndicates to smuggle in with ease tons of ‘’shabu’’ (crystal meths) at various ports, particularly Manila’s waterfront.
Sen. Panfilo M. Lacson, chairman of the Senate public order and illegal drugs committee, had said his committee might be tasked through a resolution to investigate the Kian de los Santos killing although he is of the opinion that the Department of Justice (DoJ) and the Internal Affairs Service (IAS) of the Philippine National Police (PNP)b should be given the opportunity to investigate it first.
Pangilinan expressed hopes that this sentiment of senators belonging to different political parties would reinforce the independence of the Senate and its check and balance function against abuses.
He said Filipinos express hopes that the current direction of the anti-illegal drugs campaign of President Duterte which had resulted in many unnecessary killings should immediately stop.
The Duterte administration must adopt a holistic approach on the drug problem which does not only include how the police force is managed but how to solve problems such as health and poverty, Pangilinan said.
‘’Pagtugtunan natin ang usapin ng kahirapan at ‘yung health issue – holistic, ang approach,’’ he said. (If we focus our attention of poverty and heath issues, in other words holistic, the continuous EJKs will stop as we adopt new approaches.)
Pangilinan said those behind the smuggling of 600 tons of shabu at the Manila International Container Port (MICP) last May should be arrested and charged.
He said stopping the inflow of shabu from abroad, usually from China, would go a long way in reducing drug dependence in the country.
Tags: anti-illegal drugs, casualties, EJKs, Francis Pangilinan, LP Senate majority link up on drug killings, Manila Bulletin, Senate majority, Senate minority bloc, Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III