PNP back in drug war? Punish erring cops first – De Lima

MANILA, Philippines – Detained Senator Leila de Lima slammed the decision of President Rodrigo Duterte to allow the Philippine National Police (PNP) to again take part in the government's war on drugs even before corrective measures in the campaign could be put in place.

Even detention could not stop De Lima from criticizing President Rodrigo Duterte, who has greenlighted the resumption of the PNP's anti-drug campaign that has led to thousands of deaths.

"It’d be the height of arrogance if our government would resume its most murderous war on drugs without correcting its defects, without getting rid of corrupt policemen, and without making them accountable for their crimes,” De Lima said in a statement.

The PNP has been accused of corruption and killing drug suspects under the cover of Oplan Tokhang, the PNP's anti-crime strategy, following the deaths of Albuera mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr and South Korean businessman Jee Ick Joo inside Camp Crame.

"It is reckless, to say the least, to allow the resumption of the anti-drug operations of the Philippine National Police which is more interested in the incentives given them than in investigating and preventing death squad-style killings,” she added.

For the President's fiercest critic, the PNP's Double Barrel operations should be completely trashed.

Citing the alternate report submitted by the Ateneo Human Rights Center to the United Nations, the senator said the operation has several defects, leading to the deaths of innocent individuals and children as "collateral damage." (READ: The Drug War: Danica, My Danica)

“The present war on drugs is a dismal failure because there were innocent individuals who were summarily killed, those who were apprehended were not accorded due process of the law, and only the poor were targeted,” she said.

“Like many of you know, the illegal drug abuse and trafficking present a persistent problem not only for the Philippines but also for other countries. We are against drug trade, but we should not allow innocent people summarily killed,” she added. (READ: Ex-Colombian president to Duterte: Force won't solve drug war)

It was De Lima who launched a Senate probe into the spate of extrajudicial killings in the government's war on drugs – a campaign promise that helped propel Duterte to power. The President's House allies responded with a congressional  probe into the drug trade in the New Bilibid Prison when De Lima was justice secretary.

The testimonies of the convicts at the congressional inquiry became the basis for drug charges against the senator that led to her arrest. (READ: TIMELINE: De Lima – from drug probe to arrest) – ‪‬

Camille Elemia

Camille Elemia is a multimedia reporter focusing on media, technology, and disinformation.