Are there extrajudicial killings in our country?
Extrajudicial killing is simply defined as killing of a person by government authorities without the sanction of the legal process. Clearly, extrajudicial killings do not include the killing of persons in the performance of legitimate military or police operations.
The extrajudicial killings accusation against the Duterte Administration is in effect a claim that the current government kills particularly those who are involved in the illegal drug use, trade and protection outside legitimate military and police operations.
One important and interesting point about the definition of extrajudicial killing is the phrase “by government authorities.” If it does not include the “killings” that happen in line with or in the context of legitimate military and police operations, then, extrajudicial killings only happens when a government adopts and implements a policy of killing people suspected of crimes with the specific intent of disregarding the legal process or justice system. In this case, killings become a “function” of government.
But before judging the current Administration, we should consider first other possibilities as President Duterte has always been firm in his commitment to uphold the rule of law.
It has not become clear that the illegal drug problem, specifically the protection given to those involved in the illegal drug trade, involves high ranking police officers as well as elected and appointed national and local government officials.
One cannot dismiss the possibility that those who appear to be “vigilantes” are actually persons hired by high-ranking protectors or drug lords to permanently silence those who may squeal on them. This is likely because of the successful Operation Tokhang of the government that has so far resulted in more than 700,000 drug users and pushers surrendering to the government. This is also likely because these protectors and drug lords know that the Duterte Administration is serious in its all-out war against illegal drugs.
The best way for the government not only to disprove accusations of extrajudicial killings against it but also score a total win against illegal drugs is go after and expose not only the “ninja cops” but also drug lords and drug protectors who are behind the killings of drug users and pushers. The war against drugs cannot be won if the government will not be able to put these drug lords and protectors behind bar because they will most likely just recruit new pushers and victimize new users.
One thing is clear – government officials or employees who are also drug lords or drug protectors and who are behind the killings of drug users and pushers to silence them are not extrajudicial killers – they are plain and simple criminals. (Dr. Ramon Ricardo A. Roque, CESOI, Diplomate)