Palace calls on public to help resolve cases of killings

Emphasizing that “one death is too many,” Malacañang on Saturday called on individuals who can provide information and evidence on the deaths linked to illegal drugs in order to resolve these cases and hold perpetrators accountable.

“Regardless of this definition, 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,” Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said in a statement.

Abella issued the statement a day after the Philippine National Police (PNP) had said that there was no case of extrajudicial killing (EJK) under the Duterte administration, which was quickly disputed by people on social media.

He said the PNP’s definition of EJK was based on the operational guidelines of the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Administrative Order No. 35, which states that an EJK is 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.”

The order, issued by then Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, also defines EJK as “the victim 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.”

“AO 35 has not been repealed or revoked; thus, the definition of EJK remains the same,” Abella said.

Thousands of suspected drug criminals have been killed since the government’s implementation of a massive campaign against illegal drugs more than a year ago.

The crackdown has drawn condemnation from the public, as well the international community.

Last week, 39 countries, including long-time Philippine allies United States, United Kingdom and Australia, issued a joint resolution before the United Nations Human Rights Council, raising alarm over the increasing number of killings linked to the government’s war on drugs. /jpv

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