Escudero wants Amnesty Int'l to face Senate probe into its report
MANILA, Philippines – Senator Francis Escudero wants a Senate investigation into the Amnesty International report that some police officers are being paid to gun down drug suspects.
Escudero said he is now drafting a resolution calling for a probe, saying such strong allegation is smearing the country’s image. He then pointed out that the international group has made false claims in the past.
“Ito’y seryosong alegasyon nanggaling pa sa international body….Dapat alamin kung may basehan nga ba o wala dahil dumudungis ito sa imahe ng ating bansa sa daigdig,” Escudero said in a press conference on Thursday, February 2.
(This is a serious allegation coming from an international body. We should know if it has basis or not because it is tarnishing the country's international image.)
“Hindi naman puwede mula malayo sa lugar kung anu-ano sasabihin nila tungkol sa ating bansa. Nais ko malaman kung totoo 'yun at kung totoo, kakampihan ko sila. Kung hindi, dapat din naman magpreno-preno sila,” Escudero added.
(Those from a foreign land could not just say anything about our country. I want to know if it is true. If it is, then I will stand by them. But if not, they should stop it.)
Another purpose of the probe, he said, is to allow the Philippine National Police (PNP) to confront its accusers.
“Dalawa ang pakay namin dito – una para mapatunayan kung totoo 'yung alegasyon ng AI at 'yung study ng AI, at pangalawa, mabigyan ng pagkakataon 'yung PNP na harapin ang AI,” he said.
In its report on Wednesday, the international human rights group said Philipines policemen, “acting on instructions from the very top of government,” have killed and paid others to kill thousands of alleged drug offenders. It said these extrajudicial killings “may amount to crimes against humanity.”
But Escudero said these killings could only constitute crimes against humanity if these are state-sponsored, emphasizing the difference between rogue policemen and the state.
“It borders on that if it is state-sponsored, meaning when I say state-sponsored, 'yung parang may dokumento, may final solution (there's a document, there's a final solution). But when it is being done by individual actors who happen to belong to the PNP or the government, ibang usapin 'yun (that's a different matter),” he added.
The same report, citing an unnamed cop with the rank of Senior Police Officer 1, said that police were being paid between P8,000 (US$161) to P15,000 (US$302) per kill. The payment supposedly came in cash from “headquarters.”
Escudero said the witness of Amnesty International could testify in an executive session with senators to protect his identity and information.
“Nagawa na namin' yan noon at napatunayan naman ng Senado na hindi namin inilalabas ang anumang pinag-usapan sa executive session maliban na lamang kung pagbotohan ito ng mayorya ng mga senador," he said.
(We have done it in the past and the Senate has proven that it does not divulge discussions during executive session except if a majority of senators would vote on it.)
“Kung ganyang kasensitibo, nakahanda naman ang Senado na tumanggap ng ‘sekretong’ testigo para mapangalagaan ang kanilang seguridad,” Escudero added.
(If it’s that sensitive, the Senate is ready to receive "secret" witnesses to protect them.)
Other senators had earlier urged Amnesty International to produce evidence to support its allegations against Philippine authorities. – Rappler.com