There has to be even a minimal sense of disbelief after hearing Sen. Vicente “Tito” Sotto III claim that reports of extrajudicial killings are conjectures or theories and that all drug suspects killed in police operations resisted arrest.
The senator made the claim during a visit to Cebu City, specifically at the Police Regional Office grounds in Camp Lapu-Lapu last Thursday. Sotto may have made the assertion to boost the morale of the police and remove any doubts about the conduct of their antidrug war.
Or he could have said this to remove suspicions that the unidentified vigilantes responsible for the drive-by type of shootings typical of gangland violence were done by undercover police or their assets.
Then again, he may be referring only to police operations that resulted in armed confrontations that caused the deaths of drug suspects, but to sidestep the vigilante-style killings is not presenting the total picture of the war against illegal drugs.
Since the perpetrators of these extrajudicial killings are mostly anonymous or have taken extra care not to be identified, Sotto and allies of President Rodrigo Duterte can afford to downplay these speculations, leaving the public to debate endlessly about the morality or legality of the Duterte administration’s war on drugs.
The numbers are disturbing, and bear this out: of the 5,845 deaths recorded by the Commission on Human Rights involving drug suspects, 2,004 resulted from police operations while 3,841 were killed by anonymous assailants.
This fact may have been overlooked or deliberately ignored by Senator Sotto, who, along with former congressman Antonio Cuenco, supports the revival of the death penalty to execute drug lords.
The merits of the death penalty revival can be discussed another time knowing how Congress takes its time plodding through priority legislation, but Senator Sotto’s assertion that EJKs don’t exist is not only dangerously misleading but ignorant of the actual ground reality.
There’s the police assertion that the government’s intensified campaign against drugs have forced syndicates to kill rivals and blame these on law enforcers. These syndicates may also be using drug coddlers in government and law enforcement agencies to do the dirty work for them.
While there may be some truth to it, are the syndicates wholly responsible for the deaths of these drug suspects?
Their hands may be bloody, but the extent of their role in these killings remain to be seen given the billions of pesos of drug money at their disposal even if some of these drug lords are behind bars.
There is evidence of EJKs that only await further investigation and validation, and administration allies like Senator Sotto simply cannot insist that they are but a figment of the public’s imagination.
Disclaimer: The comments uploaded on this site do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of management and owner of Cebudailynews. We reserve the right to exclude comments that we deem to be inconsistent with our editorial standards.