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Lacson raises concern over ‘vigilantes’

Senator Panfilo Lacson expressed yesterday concern over vigilante groups which have been riding on the government’s anti-illegal drugs campaign, saying crime data would reveal the killings being attributed to them are bigger than those in legitimate police operations.

But Lacson, who served as chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP) during the time of President Estrada, was quick to clarify that he appreciates what he describes as unprecedented campaign against illegal drugs in the country.

He then cited the recent PNP figures wherein a total of 576,176 suspected drug pushers and users have already surrendered while 612 were killed and 8,623 were arrested.

The figure is just on a span of six weeks, or since July 1 since the Duterte administration, and the leadership of Director General Ronald dela Rosa, has started.

“Needless to say, these numbers are unprecedented. Never in our recent history has government waged the same unrelenting drive against the drug menace than this administration,” said Lacson.

But what he is concerned of, according to Lacson, is that the vigilante killings are also gaining traction amid the current all-out war against illegal drugs.

“While I am with you in this crusade, let me underscore that I am equally alarmed by the series of killings perpetrated by vigilante groups. This mass tide of summary executions seems to gain traction more than the positive turnout of legitimate and effective police operations,” said Lacson.

Lacson then cited a data wherein a total of 681 people were killed by vigilante groups starting from the same date as of August 3.

If calculated, Lacson said it appears that an average of 20 deaths are being attributed to vigilante groups daily compared to only 12 by legitimate police operations.

The output is on a negative as far as public perception is concerned, according to Lacson, since vigilante killings are overshadowing the success of the PNP in anti-drugs campaign.

“If this is not solved, there maybe some perception that this is State-sponsored and that the PNP tolerates this,” said Lacson.

As such, Lacson urged the PNP leadership to come up with solution in addressing vigilante groups.

“Hence, now more than ever, I urge you to commit to your momentum of fighting crimes by guarding your cause and deterring lawless and faceless groups from spiraling out of control,” he said. (AARON RECUENCO)