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No witch-hunt in Senate probe

The upcoming Senate probe on drug-related killings will neither be a witch-hunt nor an indictment, according to Senator Leila de Lima.

“It’s really fact-finding, because we have to know what is really happening on the ground. Because, really, this spate of summary killings, extra-judicial killings are unacceptable for me,” said De Lima during a talk with Manila Bulletin editors yesterday.

De Lima added that there might be quite a number of unjustified killings, categorizing these into those occurred during police operations, and those perpetrated by vigilantes.

De Lima said that she is “sick and tired” of being portrayed as an “enemy” of the Duterte administration, explaining that she wants to help crafting better strategies to fight the drug menace.

“I want [people] to understand that I’m not an enemy of this administration, but I’m one with the administration in its intensified drive against criminality, particularly drugs. We must know what exactly is happening, why are there so many killings, who are doing it, why,” she said.

The inquiry, which will start on Aug. 22, would also look into various theories, such as on allegations that certain local chief executives are behind the proliferation of illegal drugs in their respective communities.

She lamented the “frequent excuse” by involved policemen that some drug suspects were killed because they engaged in a firefight.

“I don’t believe that the majority of [the killings] are due to the reason. I hope I’m wrong, but I think I’m right,” De Lima added. “It’s just strange, it’s just so incredulous that it’s always the cause.”

“We don’t intend to really investigate each of these cases… But through the ‘representative cases,’ we would be able to see what is probably going on, why are these small-time drug pushers, suspected drug pushers and drug users, some of them assets, are being eliminated,” De Lima said.

Among those invited to the inquiry are Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Director General Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa, and heads of the Department of the Interior and Local Government, Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, and the National Bureau of Investigation.

“We’ll get from them their database, the figures, how many exactly were the incidents they reported, and how many of those are being investigated, and what are the results of the investigation,” she said. (MONCH MISAGAL)