WHEN 'NEUTRALIZE' MEANS 'KILL': The Duterte administration's war on drugs practically orders cops to kill suspects, the Free Legal Assistance Group claimed Thursday as it sought the Supreme Court's help to stop the police's Project: Double Barrel.
Speaking to DZMM Wednesday, FLAG Chairman Jose Manuel Diokno said a memo issued by Philippine National Police chief Director General "Bato" Dela Rosa on his first day in office tells cops to "neutralize" drug suspects under Project: Double Barrel.
"Paulit-ulit ang directive sa circular na iyon, na dapat daw ang utos nila ay 'i-neutralize' at 'i-negate' ang suspected drug personalities. Sa batas walang ibig sabihin ang 'neutralize' at 'negate.' Ang ginagamit namin sa batas ay arrest, search and seizure," he said.
"Nung nag-research kami nakahanap kami ng statements ng PNP at ni PNP chief na sa mga sinasabi niya sa salitang ginagamit niya na 'neutralize,' ibig po niyang sabihin ay pagpatay. Ginagamit niya ang 'neutralize' as a euphemism for killing," he added.
Diokno put emphasis on the word "suspected," saying that these suspects should be brought to court who will decide on their guilt. The job of the police, he said, is just to arrest suspects.
FLAG represents three petitioners who urged the Supreme Court yesterday to declare the government's war on drugs unconstitutional. The petition was filed on behalf of three people whose relatives were killed by cops.
The petitioners also questioned the Department of the Interior and Local Government's Memorandum Circular 2017-112 as the system of anonymous reporting of suspected criminals supposedly violates the right to due process.
Diokno said they, too, believe that the scourge of illegal drugs must be stopped.
But he said a stronger and effective justice system is the real long-lasting solution to the country's problem on drugs and crime, not killing of suspects.
"Ang isinasagawang war on drugs ng gobyerno, hindi niya malulutas 'yung problema ng laganap na crime, drugs and corruption," he said.
"Ang solusyon diyan, palakasin natin 'yung sistema ng katarungan. Kaya nakakalusot ang mga kriminal, kaya nakakalusot ang mga sindikato ay dahil mahina ang sistema ng katarungan," he added.
PNP data shows 3,800 people have been killed in operations in which police say armed suspects violently resisted arrest. Duterte's opponents and activists dispute that, saying executions and cover-ups are commonplace, which police deny.