PDEA, police: We value life

By Nestle L. Semilla August 22,2017

Members of the group Akbayan stage a protest rally in downtown Cebu City to condemn the killing of 17-year-old Kian delos Santos in Caloocan City.

2 law enforcement agencies give statements after church condemned drug-related killings

The Central Visayas offices of the Philippine National Police (PNP) and Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) claimed that they value life and human rights.

The two law enforcement agencies gave their statement after the Catholic Church called on the government to stop their campaign against illegal drugs.

“We in PDEA-7 value life and also human rights. They (drug suspects) are more useful to us if they are captured alive rather than dead,” said PDEA-7 Director Yogi Filemon Ruiz.

Ruiz said their agents only fight back when the subjects are the first to fire.

“If they (drug suspects) will not fight back, then there will be no killings,” Ruiz added.

Ruiz said it is much better for the drug suspect to surrender than fight back.

Chief Supt. Jose Mario Espino, Police Regional Office (PRO) 7 director, said that like bishops and priests, the policemen also value the lives of the people.

Espino urged the Catholic Church to help them in the fight against illegal drugs by educating the youth.

Espino also urged the bishops to pray for the safety of policemen involved in the anti-illegal drug operations.

He assured Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle and Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma that PRO-7 will follow its standard police operational procedures in all their operations.

“PRO-7 continues to follow its standard police operational procedures in all anti-illegal drug operation under Oplan Double Barrel Reloaded. We know that this campaign has been effective in reducing the supply of shabu because the cost per gram of shabu continues to skyrocket. The rising prices, however, is also the reason why pushers take the risk to sell shabu and fight it out with the police,” Espino said.

But if their targets put the lives of the operatives in danger, he said they don’t have other choice but to fight back.

Meanwhile, Gov. Hilario Davide III said the Cebu provincial government does not tolerate alleged extrajudicial killings.

The governor was saddened over the fate of grade 11 student Kian delos Santos, who was killed during an anti-drug operation last week in Caloocan City.

“We do not condone such practices, and those who will be proven accountable will have to face the consequences. But hopefully, no such thing will ever happen here in Cebu,” Davide stated.

“It’s tragic that a 17-year-old child was shot dead just because he was an alleged drug runner. … I’ve not read the story thoroughly, but what I learned was that the child pleaded for his life while being escorted by policemen so that has to be under full investigation,” explained Davide.

Magpale also shared the same sentiment.

“I’m glad to hear that President Rodrigo Duterte will not condone the actions of the accused,” she stated.

But both officials said they will continue to support the administration’s intensified campaign against illegal drugs.

“We condemn (unfair) killings, but we don’t question the President’s wisdom on Oplan Tokhang especially if it’s the only way to curb the illegal drug problem in the country,” added Magpale.

According to an autopsy conducted on Sunday by the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO), Delos Santos was shot in the ear while lying prone in an alley, his killer standing over him.

All evidence point to “intentional killing” of the teenager during an antidrug operation on Wednesday in Caloocan City, said PAO medicolegal officer Erwin Erfe.

“There’s no evidence that would back up [the policemen’s story] that he fought back. He was lying face down, his shooter was standing above him,” Erfe said.

The police claimed Delos Santos resisted arrest and fired at the police officers, prompting them to fire back.

But video footage of the incident showed that the police officers had already arrested the boy before the supposed shootout. /with reports from Correspondent Benjie B. Talisic and Morexette Marie B. Erram and INQUIRER.NET

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