Bishop fears return of police to drug war

Bishop fears return of police to drug war

Bishop Pablo Virgilio David of Kalookan

A Catholic bishop has warned of more bloodshed as the police force reignite its controversial war on drugs.

In fact, Bishop Pablo Virgilio David of Kalookan said that killings continued in his diocese even if the government’s drug war was removed from the police in October 2017.

The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) has since took the job amid public outrage against the death of three teenage drug suspects in the hands of policemen.

But in December last year, President Rodrigo Duterte again ordered the return to the Philippine National Police (PNP) the conduct of anti-drug operations in the country.

“Tokhang was suspended but the killings of alleged drug suspects never really stopped. What to expect with its third relaunching? Your guess is as good as mine,” David said.

Currently the second-in-command in the bishops’ hierarchy, he said his diocese recorded the killing of at least 20 people since October in his diocese which covers the cities of Caloocan, Navotas and Malabon.

“The killings by the ‘bonnet gangs’ never really stopped after Tokhang was suspended the second time on October 12, 2017,” he said.

David has also asked for an update over the thousands of previous killings linked to the “Oplan Tokhang”.

According to him, the seeming absence of credible findings on the killings makes the return of the drug war more worrisome.

“How many of the 4,000 killed in ’legitimate police operations’ during the first two Tokhangs really ‘fought back’ (nanlaban) as claimed by the police? Have they found out? How many of the more than 16,000 ‘deaths under investigation’ perpetrated by masked vigilantes have been resolved? Why are the killers never apprehended, pursued, or caught by the police?” asked David.

Government lawyers earlier declined to comply with a Supreme Court request to submit copies of police reports and other documents especially on the death of some 4,000 suspects in supposedly legitimate drug operations.

Earlier, Solicitor General Jose Calida told the SC that he would comply with its directive. He later withdrew his own word citing national security.