Presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella answers questions in his first media briefing held in Malacnang.
INQUIRER PHOTO/JOAN BONDOC
Amid the rising body count in the administration’s war on crime, Malacañang on Saturday said it was open to any investigation on drug-related killings, as being called upon by human rights advocates and lawmakers.
“As far as we can see, the President has given us directives regarding the rising criminality which are drug related. So ang ano po ditto (The thing is), if there are any complaints, then ‘wag po natin ibase doon sa speculation. ‘Wag lang po natin ibase sa reportage (then let’s not base them on speculation or media reportage),” presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella said over state-run Radyo ng Bayan.
“Pero kung talagang meron pong mga pruweba (But if there’s any proof), if there’s substantive evidence and proven, the Palace, the government is also of course open to any investigation,” he added.
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Abella was reacting to a question on the statement of top human rights lawyer Manuel Diokno, who said the administration’s war on drugs “has spawned a nuclear explosion of violence that is spiraling out of control and creating a nation without judges, without law, and without reason.”
READ: THE KILL LIST
The Philippine National Police has also confirmed the killing of more than 100 drug suspects, as at least two senators expressed support for a Senate probe of the deaths as proposed by Sen. Leila de Lima.
But Abella said the probe should be based on complaints backed by “substantive evidence.”
“It cannot just be based on speculation. And based lang on mga kuro-kuro lang po (And based on rumors and opinions). It has to be evidence-based also po, na talagang merong mga ano, may mga paglabag (to show that there are violations),” he said.
De Lima, who also served as Justice secretary and Human Rights chief, said she would file a resolution for an inquiry into the drug killings, noting the “telltale signs of summary executions” in a number of cases.
Duterte won the elections in a landslide, with a platform deeply rooted on a relentless war on drugs and criminality, including shoot-to-kill orders against drug lords and peddlers.
The President recently named five retired and active police generals who were alleged drug perpetrators and three alleged “top tier” drug lords operating in the country, adding that mayors and other local officials were also involved in illegal drug trade.
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Asked about reports on the claim of PNP Chief Ronald Dela Rosa that some media members were also alleged protectors of drug lords, Abella said: “Kung sinabi po niya ‘yun. Then, probably, he has intelligence reports regarding… that can confirm that.”