Palace: Close to 9,000 EJK deaths is ‘false news’

MANILA — Malacañang on Friday dismissed persistent reports claiming that close to 9,000 have been killed in the government’s war against illegal drugs as “false news,” urging the US State Department not to rush to judgement over the number of alleged extrajudicial killings (EJKs).

In a statement, Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said the Philippine government share the concern of US Assistant Secretary of State for Southeast Asia Patrick Murphy, who has been quoted in the media saying that there are elements of the drug war that are operating outside the rule of law.

On Thursday, Murphy reportedly said that the US government is deeply concerned by the growing number of extrajudicial killings in the Philippines.

He also urged the Philippines to follow up on its commitment to investigate EJKs, whether they are committed by law enforcement, or of a vigilante nature.

Abella pointed out that since President Rodrigo Duterte assumed power in July 1, 2016, the police has accounted for 6,011 homicide cases under investigation — formerly called deaths under investigation.

“Of this number, only 1,398 cases are found to be drug-related contrary to news reports that there are now close to 9,000 killed connected with the campaign against illegal drugs,” he said.

“On the number of extrajudicial deaths, the persistent news reports of 7,000 killed, which is now being said to be close to 9,000, is false news,” Abella said.

The Palace official also pointed out that law enforcers and local authorities always follow the rule of law and due process in the anti-drug war and has remained committed in investigating any and all alleged cases of EJK.

“Local authorities follow operational protocols and the proper enforcement of our laws requires the use of reasonable force merited by the attendant circumstances. Those who breach procedures are made to answer before the law,” he said.

“The Philippine National Police (PNP) has an Internal Affairs Service (IAS) tasked to probe police accused of such violations. This body can suspend or dismiss PNP personnel based on violations incurred and can recommend the filing of criminal charges,” Abella said.

He also stressed that President Duterte’s war against illegal drug is strongly supported by the Filipino people, highlighting the importance of respecting the viewpoints of independent nations and its people.

“We expect fairness and not a rush to judgment. Right now the people appreciate the changes and the way these are carried out. We ask to be understood not just from a single perspective, but from the point of view of Filipinos who desire change, stability and fairness,” Abella said. Cielito Reganit/