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Palace: ‘Killings’ being addressed

By: Argyll Cyrus B. Geducos

Malacañang has reassured the public that reported “killings” under the administration of President Duterte are being addressed to ensure accountability and backed the Philippine National Police that said that the country remains free from extrajudicial killings.

Presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella said not one among the killings can be defined as an EJK, citing the definition provided for by Administrative Order No. 35 signed on April 18, 2013.

“EJK are referred to as killings where ‘the victim was a member of, or affiliated with an organization, to include political, environmental, agrarian, labor, or similar causes; or an advocate of above-named causes; or a media practitioner or person(s) apparently mistaken or identified to be so,’” Abella said.

“AO 35 also referred to EJKs when ‘the victim was targeted and killed because of the actual or perceived membership, advocacy, or profession; or the person/s responsible for the killing is a state agent or non-state agent; and the method and circumstances of attack reveal a deliberate intent to kill,’” he added.

According to the Palace official, unless AO 35 is repealed or revoked, the definition of EJK will remain the same.

However, Abella reiterated that “one death is too many” regardless of the definition of the three feared letters.

“These deaths are being addressed to ensure the accountability of perpetrators, even as it calls upon witnesses and individuals who can provide valuable evidence that will lead to speedy resolution of cases,” he said.

According to the PNP, there have been 6,225 drug-related deaths since Duterte assumed office. However, it said there is no reason for the public to worry because there is still no case of EJK under the Duterte administration.

“The possibility of them becoming victims of EJK is very remote, if we based it on facts and not on impression/perception,” the PNP said.

A Social Weather Station survey has said that 73 percent of Filipinos said they are worried that they or someone they know would be a victim of EJK.

The survey also showed that 90 percent of the 1,200 respondents think it is vital that authorities capture drug suspects alive. Only 11 percent said they do not mind if drug suspects are killed in police operations.