Gov’t taking criticisms on war on drugs seriously: Palace

MANILA Malacanang on Tuesday assured the government is taking seriously the criticisms on the war on drugs, saying it would not tolerate excessive use of force by law enforcers.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque made this assurance in response to Senator Panfilo Lacson's challenge to answer the European Parliament's criticisms with facts and not insults.

We are taking it seriously but we don't have to broadcast everything that we are doing, Roque said in a Palace briefing.

Roque said the Philippine National Police (PNP) is doing its best to make sure that policemen are not engaged in extra-judicial killings as alleged by the war on drugs' critics including the European Parliament.

In response to European Union lawmaker's call to review the granting of GSP Plus status to the Philippines, Roque said it is the EU's prerogative but President Rodrigo Duterte has repeatedly cleared his position on alleged extra-legal killing that tainted his war on drugs.

He (Duterte) stand by the police when they are in the discharge of their official function. When they commit acts outside their official functions, he will order arrest, Roque explained.

Subject to international conventions, the Philippines under GSP Plus is allowed to export some 6,000 eligible products to EU member states duty-free since December 2014.

Roque said the PNP is halfway done in its investigation of policemen who might have engaged in excessive use of force in fulfilling their duties to fight illegal drugs.

As concurrent presidential adviser on human rights, Roque said he has coordinated with the PNP to document each of the reported killings.

We're half way done. So in a few months, I will have a file each of every killing that reported by the PNP indicating that there was no excessive use of force, Roque said.

And if there is reason to file charges against the killers, then I will have to file charges so that all these criticisms that we are not doing anything will stop, he added.

Roque expressed confidence that newly-installed PNP Chief Oscar Albayalde will be more cooperative not only in addressing the alleged excessive use of force but in promoting discipline amongst the ranks of the PNP.

He will hasten the process. So I foresee that in the next two or three months, we should be finished and we should come up with the report on how many should be charged if any, Roque said.

He, however, refused to comment on the recent anti-illegal drug operations in Bulacan that resulted in the death of 14 people few days after Albayalde replaced retired Police Director General Ronald 'Bato' De La Rosa as new PNP chief.

I will not comment, I do not know what really happened. But what I'm saying is that if there is excessive use of force, I hope complaints will be filed so that there will be investigation, Roque said.

Source: Philippine News Agency