MANILA, Philippines (3rd UPDATE) – The Philippine National Police (PNP) said on Friday, October 6, that there is "officially no case" of extrajudicial killing under the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte.
PNP spokesperson Chief Superintendent Dionardo Carlos issued the statement late Friday afternoon to correct an announcement he had made hours earlier – that there has been only one case of extrajudicial killing since Duterte became president.
"The PNP protects every individual's right to life. To allay or remove their fear of becoming victims of EJK, let it be known that under the present administration, there is only one case of extra-judicial killing or EJK for the period July 1, 2016, to September 30, 2017," Carlos said in his text message to reporters past 10 am on Friday.
The PNP spokesperson made the statement in response to the results of the Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey which showed that 7 in 10 Filipinos fear that they may become victims of extrajudicial killings.
Carlos initially said the only extrajudicial killing the PNP recognizes is the case of slain journalist Larry Que in Catanduanes.
Catanduanes Governor Joseph Cua, and Police Officer 1 Vincent Tacorda, the whistleblower cop who claimed he can no longer stomach illegal activities in their police force, had been implicated in Que's case. (READ: The tangled web in publisher Larry Que's slay case)
While Tacorda had recanted his statement, Carlos said at first that Que's case was still considered as extrajudicial killing. "Tacorda retracted his statement but Que is still dead, so the case still stands," Carlos initially said.
Hours later, Carlos sent another statement to the media correcting his earlier figure, after the task force in charge of cases of killings of media people and political activists pointed out his "mistake."
"I was corrected by TF Usig that the Larry Que case is not a confirmed EJK case. so officially, no case..... I stand corrected," the PNP spokesperson said in his text message sent past 4 pm.
While the PNP does not recognize any cases of extrajudicial killing under the Duterte administration, the PNP counts at least 3,850 drug suspects killed in their anti-drug operations, and at least 2,290 killed for drug-related motives, mostly slain by unidentified assailants.
Carlos clarified that the PNP uses the definition of extrajudicial killing as provided under Administrative Order 35 issued by the Aquino administration.
Under the order, extrajudicial killings are defined as committed by "state and non-state forces" to silence, "through violence and intimidation, legitimate dissent and opposition raised by members of the civil society, cause-oriented groups, political movements, people’s and non-governmental organizations, and by ordinary citizens."
Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said on Saturday, October 7, that while they are confined to the definition as stated under AO 35, the government recognizes that "one death is one too many."
"We wish to emphasize that one death is one too many. Regardless of this definition, these deaths are being addressed to ensure the accountability of perpetrators, even as it calls upon witnesses and individuals who can provide valuable evidence that will lead to speedy resolution of cases," Abella said.
Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano used the same definition when he made a presentation to the United Nations Human Rights Council in May, and maintained that there was no new wave of killings in the Philippines under Duterte. (READ: CHR refutes Cayetano: We did not change definition of EJKs)
According to the international definition, an extrajudicial killing is an execution done by government actors without going through the legal process. – Rappler.com