MALACAÑANG slammed critics on Monday, March 4, for peddling "false" and "sensationalized" number of drug-related deaths, causing public to think that they might be victims of extrajudicial killings (EJKs).
Panelo made the remarks after December 16 to 19 poll by the Social Weather Stations (SWS) showed that 78 percent of adult Filipinos were worried that they, or anyone that they know, will be a victim of extrajudicial killings.
"We understand this concern of our people given the grossly inflated number of drug-related killings falsely peddled and grotesquely sensationalized by the incorrigible critics of the government’s campaign against prohibited drugs," he said in a statement.
The results of the SWS survey were released last week following President Rodrigo Duterte's pronouncement that the government's crackdown on illegal drugs will be "harsher" in his last three years in office.
But Panelo maintained that the EJKs are not "state-sanctioned," stressing that the current administration does not condone such crime.
"For the umpteenth time, we do not tolerate EJKs nor knowingly allow them to happen. EJKs and vigilante killings are not State-sanctioned nor State-sponsored," the Palace official said.
"The President’s position on any abuse committed by police officers and PDEA (Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency) agents during their operations remains unchanged and immovable. Any transgression by them will reap the severest punishment imposed by law," he added.
Panelo guaranteed that the government was conducting an investigation on the supposed EJKs, in a bid to bring the killers to justice.
He also reiterated impunity "has no place" in the current administration.
"We are investigating all complaints and allegations of extrajudicial deaths to ensure that perpetrators will not escape accountability," he said.
"Impunity has no place in the Duterte administration nor can it find sanctuary elsewhere," Panelo added.
Meantime, Panelo said the Palace was "pleased" to know that 71 percent believed that the Duterte administration was "serious" in solving the EJK problem.
He said the result showed that the opposition's "vilification campaign" against the drug war and the President was ineffective.
"The vilification campaign against the drug war and the demonization of the President by the cantankerous and vociferous political opposition as well as the most vocal detractors are ignored by the citizenry as they express their confidence in the Administration’s capability in finding a solution to the EJKs," he said.
"The war on drugs remains relentless and more vigorous even as it is unforgiving to the destroyers of families and of this nation until the last day of the Duterte presidency," he added. (SunStar Philippines)