IFUGAO Representative Teddy Brawner Baguilat has called on Congress to investigate police corruption as detailed in the report of human rights watchdog Amnesty International (AI).
AI on Wednesday issued a report on extrajudicial executions in the Philippines’ war on drugs, detailing how the police systematically targeted” mostly poor and defenseless people across the country.
The report said that acting on instructions “from the very top of government, police have killed and paid others to kill thousands of alleged drug offenders in a wave of extrajudicial executions that may amount to crimes against humanity.”
Baguilat said the disconcerting findings of AI should prompt Congress to scrutinize corruption in the police force.
“The AI report validates our assertion that the tactics and strategies of this administration on the drug war are faulty. They are premised on disregard for the rule of law,due process and human rights. And this has led to police corruption and state-sponsored or condoned killing,” said Baguilat, who was one of the few who raised the alarm on the spate of extra-judicial killings early on in the administration's drug war.
"One of my earliest actions in the present Congress was an appeal to investigate extrajudicial killings, but that was swept under the rug by the majority," Baguilat lamented.
"That investigation would have fine-tuned the campaign against illegal drugs, identified weak spots in our police force and found ways to improve our law enforcers' skills and equipment," he added.
“We are now seeing the result of Congress's failure as the ills of the law enforcement system are coming to light,” said Baguilat, “Police as hoodlums, the planting of evidence, getting paid for a high body count, these are all indications of an ineffective and graft-ridden police force," he added.
"Congress should not ignore this situation again, otherwise it will be complicit in the deterioration of our police force, and possibly the killing of more innocents," Baguilat said.
Baguilat said that the situation bolsters the argument against the death penalty bill. "Passing the bill would only increase the likelihood of the wrong people being killed by the government given the state of the police and criminal justice system," Baguilat remarked.
“We must junk the death penalty bill and instead focus on reforming the Philippine National Police. This will also be fair to our policemen and women who faithfully serve and protect the people. Their work must not be tainted by scalawags.”
Baguilat has consistently opposed moves in Congress to restore the death penalty, on grounds that it would not deter crime and would only hurt the poor and marginalized.
“Even if we have the death penalty in place, what will happen is that the poor will again bear the consequence of the weakness and inconsistency in the application of the criminal justice system. We must first strengthen our criminal justice system to make a more lasting impact against criminality. I have never believed in legislating this ultimate retribution,” Baguilat had said.
Capital punishment was last suspended in 2006 by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. At that time, Congress was overwhelmingly supportive of the tenet that life has value.
President Duterte, however, has consistently said that he wants the death penalty back as part of measures to supposedly stop the proliferation of drugs and criminality.
“I reiterate my support for the President’s campaign against drugs and criminality. But there is a right way to do it and I will always support what is right, even if it is not popular,” Baguilat said.