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Senator Gatchalian to PNP: subdue vigilante killings

Senator Win Gatchalian speaks with Senator Vicente Sotto III, who authored the landmark Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act in 2002, that created the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA). (Photo by Mark Cayabyab)

Senator Win Gatchalian called on Philippine National Police to undertake drastic efforts to suppress vigilante killings of suspected drug pushers, whose mangled bodies are often dumped in the streets with cardboard signs proclaiming their alleged crimes.

“The PNP needs to work double-time in investigating the murder of Filipino citizens by lawless elements who have decided to take the law into their own hands. These vigilantes might think they are noble crusaders like Batman, but in reality they are merely vicious criminals who need to be brought to justice,” said Gatchalian, who has previously spoken out against the growing violence surrounding the Duterte administration’s war on drugs.

Appealing directly to PNP Director General Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa, whom the senator described as “an honest and dedicated public servant,” Gatchalian urged Dela Rosa to personally ensure that the PNP would mount the proper investigations and anti-vigilante operations to restore order in the streets.

The Senator expressed confidence that Dela Rosa is up to the challenge, especially since the popular police chief has already revealed publicly that he has reliable information concerning the escalating violence, which he said is the work of rival criminal syndicates killing one another. 

“Director General Bato has to take control of the situation by making sure that these vigilantes can’t just murder people in the streets with impunity. Only the police force and the judiciary should have the power to punish criminals for their crimes. Criminals shouldn’t be able to punish each other,” Gatchalian explained.

Hundreds of drug-related killings have been reported since President Rodrigo Duterte assumed office June 30. While some have occurred during official police operations, many of these murders have been committed by unidentified hitmen, leaving grotesque scenes of bloodshed for the public to see across the entire country.

Gatchalian reiterated his position that the PNP, the National Bureau of Investigation, the Department of Justice, and other law enforcement and executive agencies should have the first opportunity to conduct investigations into the killings because the work falls squarely into their jurisdiction. 

However, Gatchalian added: “If lawlessness and violence continue to escalate without any answers or action coming from our law enforcement officials, then I will have to consider supporting a Senate investigation into the matter. We need to do everything we can to restore peace and order in the streets.” (Aureli Sinsuat)