Sereñas: The drug war and EJK

To Serve and Protect

THERE is no such thing as extrajudicial killing or EJK in the Philippine National Police (PNP) drug war. I mean, not in Cagayan de Oro City, not in Misamis Oriental, not anywhere in Northern Mindanao.

After heaps of stories, inquiries, debates and dissenting opinions about EJK, the statement above, I'm sure, will draw flak and mixed reactions; more so, that it's coming from a member of a law enforcement agency. Such response, at any rate, is a positive development. I relish the thought and am extremely honored and happy that it did get responses; for it or against it. Whether the statement gets countless frowning faces rather than smiley, it nevertheless means that people are reading.

The actual challenge in writing is coming up with relevant article that is worthy of the readers time.

According to this paper's editor, Chief Churchill (I call him that): "inject your opinion, not just PR" and so, here it is. For starter, I am writing about the much talked about EJK and as I have said earlier, there is no such thing as extrajudicial killing or EJK and I will tell you, with all due respect to those who disagree, why.

To begin with, the New Oxford American Dictionary define "Judicial" as: (adjective) of, by, or appropriate to a court or judge (usage) a judicial admission, which means admission made in an open court.

Consequently, extrajudicial is defined as not legally authorized or out of court's legal authority (usage) extrajudicial admission, which means out of court admission. Hence, when we say extrajudicial killing, we refer to killing without judicial authority or killing without the court's permission.

The question now is: Is there killing "with judicial authority" or "court's permission?" The answer is: Yes! Before Republic Act (RA) 9346, the law that prohibits death penalty in the Philippines, there is such a thing as killing "with judicial authority" or "court permission." Whatever legal euphemism it is called; sometimes it is referred to as capital punishment or death sentence to make it sound less obnoxious, but it is still killing; a form of state-sanctioned killing at that. Thank God for RA 9346, death penalty was outlawed and stopped.

Now, going back to the statement that EJK does not exist. The first EJK-ish question is: How can we account for the growing number of drug-related deaths executed vigilante-style? Aren't they EJK?

When high profile drug personalities, like that of Odicta, are gunned down, not during legitimate police operations, but by alleged vigilantes, do we not consider it EJK? The answer to all those questions above is NO! Since the passage of the landmark legislation prohibiting death penalty, there has been no killing authorized by law. Therefore, it follows that after the passage of the law, all type of deliberate and unjustified killing is murder. Those vigilante-style killing are definitely not EJK. When a person, whether involved with illegal drugs or not, is deliberately and unjustifiably killed, it is nothing but murder. Therefore, the death of drug personalities is either "killed during legitimate police operation" or murder. Don’t call it EJK, there's no such thing.

If I may borrow the words from Caloocan RTC Branch 125 Judge Rodolfo Azucena Jr., the judge who handed the guilty verdict to the 3 policemen in connection with Kian Delos Santos' death, "murder is never a function of law enforcement." I couldn't agree more; not with the decision to convict the 3 policemen, but with his justification for his decision. Indeed, it has never been a policy of the PNP to use violence in the performance of its mandate.

The PNP has not, is not and will not encourage nor tolerate the use of extrajudicial means to win the drug war.


SunStar website welcomes friendly debate, but comments posted on this site do not necessarily reflect the views of the SunStar management and its affiliates. SunStar reserves the right to delete, reproduce or modify comments posted here without notice. Posts that are inappropriate will automatically be deleted.

Forum rules:

Do not use obscenity. Some words have been banned. Stick to the topic. Do not veer away from the discussion. Be coherent. Do not shout or use CAPITAL LETTERS!