INTERNATIONAL RIGHTS GROUP WANTS A PROBE ON ‘HITMEN COPS’

By Nestle L. Semilla and Inquirer.net |November 06,2018 - 10:29 PM

An international human rights watchdog has called on the government to form an independent commission that would look into the alleged involvement of police officers in the killing of people supposedly involved in illegal drugs.

Human Rights Watch made the call after Chief Supt. Debold Sinas, chief of the Police Regional Office in Central Visayas (PRO-7), was quoted as saying that some of the hitmen hired by drug lords were retired military or police officers, and, in some cases, could be policemen still in active service.

“The admission by a senior police official that police officers are working as hitmen for drug syndicates is yet more evidence of Philippine government complicity in ‘drug war’ killings,” Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement on Monday.

“Given the total failure of the police to stop these abuses, it’s clear that any serious investigation of the police role in the war on drugs needs full independence,” he said.

The HRW stressed that the commission should be completely independent from the Office of the President and the Philippine National Police (PNP) and should include investigators from the Commission of Human Rights (CHR) and representatives from non-governmental organizations.

Sought for his comment, Sinas begged off from giving any comment to the call of the international human rights organization.
“No comment,” he said in a text message to Cebu Daily News.

Experts

In an interview over Cebu Daily News’ Facebook Live program Freshtalks last Oct. 31, Sinas said there could be retired or active police officers who were behind these killings in Cebu, especially the killing of people allegedly involved in illegal drugs.

He explained that in every drug group, the drug lord has three kinds of people under him: the distributors, the collectors, and the hitmen.

“Kinsa man ni sila (hitmen)? Most likely retired nga army o mga pulis. Or naa pa gani aktibo wala lang ta kahibalo,” said Sinas.

(Who are these hitmen? Most likely these are retired military or police officers. Or there are active police officers we just don’t know who.)

He said drug personalities hired retired military or police officers because of their expertise.

“Kung dismissed or retired ang usa ka pulis unsay expertise? Firearms and security. So naa siyay dala-dala nga expertise mao ni gipangita sa ilaha (by the drug groups),” Sinas said.

(What is the expertise of a dismissed or retired police officer? Firearms and security. So this person who has this kind of skills is what is needed by the drug groups.)

He stressed that these former or active police officers who moonlighted as hitmen of drug personalities are scalawags in uniform and a blight on the PNP.

He also revealed that the active police officers who are suspected to be into these killings for a fee are now being looked into.

Particularly suspicious, he said, are police officers who were once assigned in Central Visayas and were transferred to other regions but would keep on coming back to Cebu.

After President Rodrigo Duterte assumed office, a number of police officers in Central Visayas were transferred mainly to Mindanao because of suspicions over their alleged involvement in the illegal drug trade.

Accountability

With these admissions, Adams stressed that it is high time to process the accountability of “mass murder” in the country.

“It’s time for an independent commission to be created to officially identify those responsible and begin the process of accountability for mass murder,” he said.

Meanwhile, Malacañang spurned the “reckless” proposal of the Human Rights Watch (HRW) to create an independent commission to investigate the alleged involvement of police officers in the killing of people allegedly involved in illegal drugs.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo stressed that the international human rights watchdog’s recommendation intrudes the Philippines’ domestic affairs.

“This proposal by the Human Rights Watch (HRW) for the creation of an independent commission to go after police officers allegedly involved in the killing of drug suspects smacks of another effort of this moribund group, which projects itself as a human rights organization, to intrude into our domestic affairs,” Panelo said in a statement.

Panelo said HRW’s “inference from an interview of a lone police official cannot be a valid ground for such reckless proposal.”

“This is not new and is no different from those hurled by desperate critiques of this administration since Day 1 of the President’s war against illegal drugs,” he said.

“This group’s latest effort to use media to resurrect an old issue clearly aims to undermine the integrity of the government’s institutional mechanisms,” he added.

Panelo insisted that the country has existing and functioning mechanisms to ensure that human rights are protected, citing the Internal Affairs Service (IAS) of the PNP, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) and Congress.

Panelo stressed that government does not need “schooling from outsiders on how to run the country.”

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