Police data will shed light on drug killings – ecumenical group

Police data will shed light on drug killings – ecumenical group

Families of victims of extrajudicial killings join the Walk for Life in Manila, Feb. 24, 2018. CBCP NEWS

By Roy Lagarde

April 12, 2018

MANILA

An ecumenical rights group welcomed the Supreme Court’s order demanding the release of police records on the thousands of deaths linked to the government’s drug operations.

Carmelite Fr. Gilbert Billena, spokesperson of Rise Up for Life and for Rights, said access to such information will give “proper perspective” to the controversial drug war.

“Even more, deaths under investigation deserve attention and such reports can lay bare possible suspects and patterns,” said the priest.

For human rights advocates and families affected by the drug-related killings, he said, such data may contain “crucial information” for them and their communities.

With urban poor communities’ perception of police “authoritarian rule,” he said many families are feeling hopeless in their search for justice for killings related to drugs.

“Police operatives who conduct themselves in accordance with the rule of law have nothing to fear,” Billena said.

“However, access to information is essential for deconstructing the fear that currently grips many poor communities,” he stressed.

The High Court on April 3 ordered the government to submit relevant documents, including the lists of “deaths under investigation” within 15 days so it can proceed with hearing petitions against the drug war.

Solicitor General Jose Calida initially contested the court’s order, saying the records’ release might affect national security but the SC denied his motion.

The priest urged the SC to remain firm in obtaining these records, adding that allowing state forces to engage in such extra-judicial actions “only complicates an already difficult social problem”.

“The strength of democracy in our nation requires that checks and balances between branches of government promote the welfare of all Filipinos, but especially the poor citizens of our country,” he said.