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Senate probes drug killings

A defiant Sen. Leila M. de Lima who is raring to prove that extrajudicial killings are a reality under President Duterte, is bent on conducting a two-day probe, denying calls for a postponement of a public hearing on the spate of summary executions in the Philippines in light of the government’s intensified war against illegal drugs.

In an advisory sent to the media, De Lima, chairperson of the Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights, said the joint public hearing with the Senate Committee on Public Order and Illegal Drugs, will hear and receive testimonies from witnesses of extrajudicial killings and summary executions who have been invited to attend the two-day probe.

She also said the panel will also hear the reports of concerned government agencies on the spate of killings and the position papers of resource persons invited to attend the hearing.

The former Justice Secretary also said it would look into results of investigations of concerned agencies and come up with initial conclusions and observations for legislative remedy.

Among those invited by her panel are Philippine National Police chief Director General Ronald M. de la Rosa, Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency Director General Isidro Lapeña, National Bureau of Investigation Director Dante Gierran, Interior and Local Government Secretary Ismael Sueno, and Commission on Human Rights Chairman Chito Gascon.

De Lima reiterated the need to address the phenomenon of vigilantism and summary killings and enhance the accountability of state and non-state actors.

“Regardless of the question whether those killed were in fact criminals, precisely because there was no opportunity for them to be prosecuted before a court of law, the fight against crime is apparently becoming a state-sanctioned cover for a policy of summary executions and extrajudicial killings of any and all suspected criminals,” De Lima said in a recent interview. (Hannah L. Torregoza)