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In Philippines, Doubts About Police Raid That Killed a Mayor

“It is yet another proof of how Duterte’s policy flouts human rights, due process and the rule of law and further reinforces the cases of crimes against humanity filed against him,” said Mr. Trillanes, who was involved in filing a complaint with the International Criminal Court in The Hague accusing Mr. Duterte of masterminding extrajudicial killings.

“As Duterte and his police chief have forewarned, more people will die in pursuit of their drug war,” Mr. Trillanes said.

Mr. Parojinog and his daughter were among roughly 150 Philippine officials, including mayors, judges and police officers, whom Mr. Duterte accused last year of being involved in illegal narcotics, reading their names from a list on live television.

The president encouraged officials on the list to report to the national police headquarters in Manila to clear their names if they considered themselves innocent. Mr. Parojinog and his daughter did so, telling reporters at the time that their political enemies may have generated the accusations against them. The mayor said his family had actively fought crime in Ozamiz, including drug trafficking.

But the family has never denied having links to the Kuratong Baleleng organization, which began as an armed militia unit formed by the military in the late 1980s to help combat communist guerrillas, and later evolved into a criminal organization. It has been dominant in Ozamiz politics for years.

As of Tuesday, Mr. Duterte had not commented on the raids Sunday. But officials in his government have distanced him from the operation, saying it was carried out independently by the police.


Rolando Espinosa Sr., left, with the national police chief, Gen. Ronald dela Rosa, after turning himself in to the authorities last year. Mr. Espinosa was later killed inside his jail cell, which the police said they had raided on suspicion that he was continuing to direct drug operations from there. Credit Mark R. Cristino/European Pressphoto Agency

On Monday, Gen. Ronald dela Rosa, the chief of the Philippine National Police, appeared undaunted by questions that were beginning to emerge about the killings, saying that the police would aggressively pursue other officials on Mr. Duterte’s list. “We have begun a case buildup against them,” he said in brief remarks to reporters. “Once there is a case already, we will operate.”

It is not clear how Mr. Duterte’s list was compiled; officials in his government have said that the president has his own sources. General dela Rosa said Monday that if officials were put on the list in error, they had nothing to fear, but that if they were confirmed to be involved in drugs, “then they can prepare themselves.”

Two other mayors on Mr. Duterte’s list were gunned down by the police within weeks of each other last year. One, Rolando Espinosa Sr., was killed in his jail cell, which the police said they had raided on suspicion that he was continuing to direct drug operations from there. The police said Mr. Espinosa had pulled a gun on the officers.

Nineteen police officers were arrested in connection with Mr. Espinosa’s killing, and a Senate panel that investigated his death — along with that of another mayor, Samsudin Dimaukom, who was killed at a police checkpoint — recommended they be charged with murder.

But the Justice Department charged them with homicide, a lesser, bailable offense, and the officers were released on bail last month. Critics of that decision have noted that the Justice Department is led by a fraternity brother of Mr. Duterte.

Thousands have died in the crackdown on narcotics overseen by Mr. Duterte, many of them accused of being drug dealers and addicts, though some may have had no such involvement. Many died at the hands of unknown assailants, but many others were killed by the police in what the authorities called justified shootings but critics say they believe were deliberate killings.

The raids on Sunday came just days after Mr. Duterte vowed to continue the campaign in the face of widespread international criticism.

“I have resolved that no matter how long it takes, the fight against illegal drugs will continue because it is the root of suffering,” he said in an address to Congress. Those involved in drug trafficking will face “either jail or hell,” he said.

Rights groups said on Tuesday that those comments encouraged a sense of impunity among the police, which Transparency International has called one of the most corrupt government agencies in a country where corruption is widespread. Such remarks from the president have an “emboldening effect that is difficult for policemen to ignore,” said Romel Bagares, a lawyer at the Center for International Law, an organization that aids families of victims of extrajudicial killings.

Mr. Bagares said that in cases where officers claim to have killed a suspect in self-defense, the police are formally required to bring the matter before a prosecutor, who determines whether there was foul play.

But in practice, that rarely happens, which “raises serious questions about the truthfulness of police accounts of these alleged shootouts between police officers and drug suspects,” said Mr. Bagares, whose group is representing a survivor of a similar police raid last August.

He said human rights groups would watch the Parojinog case closely. He noted Philippine news reports in which an employee of the Parojinog family who survived one of the raids — identified only as Cesar — described it as a summary execution by the police.

Responding to those reports on Tuesday, Dionardo Carlos, a senior superintendent and a spokesman for the national police, challenged the employee to file a sworn statement in court.

Source: NYT > World

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