Senate probe into extrajudicial killings gets under way, two witnesses testify

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MANILA, Aug. 22 (PNA) — Two family members of slain suspected drug pushers appeared at the Senate Monday to testify during the inquiry into extrajudicial killings under the Duterte administration’s war on illicit drugs.

After law enforcers delivered their introductions, the witnesses, who were wearing hoodies, scarves and sunglasses to protect their identity, recounted how Philippine National Police (PNP) officers “abused” the suspects even though they were only accused of being involved in the illegal drug trade.

The first witness, Harra Kazuo, 26, was the pregnant live-in partner of suspected drug dealer JP Bertes. JP and his father, Renato Bertes were allegedly killed by Pasay City cops last July 7.

Kazuo admitted that her partner used to sell shabu in 2015 and that cops demanded some PHP10,000 in exchange for their silence. She said JP was already trying to quit drug-dealing and was planning to surrender to the authorities when he was killed.

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She recalled how three Pasay police officers, whom she did not name, raided their house, demanded the surrender of drugs she said she did not have at that time, and stripped their two-year-old daughter naked thinking that she hid the drugs in the child’s underwear.

Harra further said that her partner was beaten up, while she herself was shoved around by the cops despite being pregnant. She however said she did not see her partner and his father when they were arrested and just learned of their death later.

PNP-Pasay Police Supt. Nolasco Bathan said they were killed because they tried to grab a cop’s gun when they were about to be detained.

The second witness was 23-year-old Mary Rose Aquino, the eldest daughter of suspected drug dealers Rodelio and Rosalie Campos. Like Kazuo, she also admitted that her parents used and sold drugs which they sourced from Antipolo police officers.

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Aquino said her parents were going to remit some PHP50,000 in drug money to cops before they were killed.

In a chance interview, PNP Dir. Gen. Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa, said that the Antipolo cops mentioned in the hearing will be relieved and placed in their holding unit while under investigation.

“If it is proven that all the police in Antipolo are involved in drugs, I’ll sack them all, even the commander,” he said in Filipino.

Dela Rosa also said that he was grateful to the witness for this revelation.

“I’m thankful to the second witness because we discovered that there are police officers not yet in our list of scalawags. It is a new discovery,” he said.

The PNP chief also said that while some police officers are bound to suffer from low morale during the Senate inquiry, he will motivate them to continue doing their jobs.

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“If you are a police with low morale, anti-drug operations may slow down but if you are a police who is committed, the more you will work hard. It’s my job to motivate them to continue doing their job,” he added.

The Senate inquiry into extrajudicial killings was presided by Senator Leila de Lima, chair of the Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights and Senator Panfilo “Ping” Lacson, chair of the Senate Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs.

Present during the hearing were law enforcement officials from the PNP, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).

Also present were resource persons from the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and Commission on Human Rights (CHR). (PNA)
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