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Senate pushes for in-depth probe of vigilante killings

The Senate public order and dangerous drugs committee pushed yesterday for an exhaustive investigation by seasoned investigators from the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and Philippine National Police (PNP) into the mysterious killings of 4,000 persons allegedly by “vigilantes’’ or by those “riding in tandem’’ as President Duterte’s campaign against the multi-billion-peso illegal drug trade rages.

Sen. Panfilo M. Lacson, committee chairman, issued the call after expressing the worrisome statistics that one third of the almost 6,000 deaths on the illegal drug campaign were supposedly undertaken by legitimate police operations.

“If we talk of 6,000, that’s 4,000 allegedly done by vigilantes or those riding in tandem in a matter of six months,’’ Lacson said.

These ‘‘vigilante’’ or ‘‘riding in tandem’’ killings refer victims whose faces or parts of their bodies are wrapped in packing tapes or those gunned down even in their houses.

The six-month period refers to the July 1, 2016 start of the Duterte administration.

Human rights advocates led by Sen. Leila de Lima and Risa Hontiveros called these killings as ‘‘extra judicial killings’’ (EJKs).

There is a current worldwide condemnation of alleged human rights violations by the Duterte administration in its campaign to rid the country of the illegal drug scourge.

Being a PNP Director-General from 1988 to 2001 during the brief Estrada presidency, Lacson said even the legitimate police operations are now being questioned if they are legitimate at all.