Senators push for probe of 'worrisome' spate of drug kills

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Among the 12 drug kills in Caloocan City was a 17-year-old student.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 18) — Lawmakers are raising the alarm over the recent spate of drug operations that have left 69 people dead in a span of three days.

Sen. Panfilo Lacson, a former national police chief and was known as a tough cop himself, acknowledged the bothersome development — casting doubt on the worn-out story of suspects killed because they fought back.

Related: Police: 32 dead, 107 arrested in province-wide drug sweep

"Thirty-two and 25 killings in just two areas within two days, while those killed allegedly resisted arrest by firing back at the lawmen, seem like they are mutually contrived," Lacson noted.

"It's worrisome, to say the least, coming even from somebody who, in his previous lifetime as a law enforcer, was a natural suspect in violating human rights of crime suspects that we used to pursue."

Lacson said he didn't want to preempt the ongoing police investigations but he urged authorities to be "very fair and objective to save whatever credibility is left in them brought about by the P/Supt Marcos et al controversy."

Watch: Supt. Marcos back on active duty

For Sen. Sonny Angara, there was a need for the Senate to look into the spike in the number of deaths, which he said had reached "alarming levels."

"We need to ensure that we are not creating killing machines. We need speedy justice machines, and ensure that we are strengthening our institutions like the courts, the police, the prosecutors. We need our people to believe in the justice system. Vigilante justice is not a systemic and long term solution," Angara said.

Related: 17-year-old student gunned down by cops in anti-drug operations

Meanwhile, Sen. JV Ejercito "condemned" the death of 17-year old Kian Lloyd Delos Santos, who was among the fatalities during drug operations in Caloocan City.

"I have always supported legitimate law enforcement operations to further the President's war against drugs. But we need to protect innocent civilians and avoid senseless loss of lives," the senator said.

Although also a supporter of the war on drugs, Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian, too, was sensing something wrong in Delos Santos' death, and said he'd be calling for a Senate investigation into the matter.

"Based on the video evidence presented so far in the media, it is quite possible that he was murdered by the policemen who accosted him," Gatchalian said. "A Senate investigation is therefore necessary to establish the true facts, and to ensure that the integrity of the PNP remains intact."

Minority member Sen. Bam Aquino also said he planned to file a resolution calling for a probe into the teener's death.

Aquino also cited the barangay (village) CCTV footage, saying Delos Santos could not have pulled out a gun since he was already being dragged away by plainclothes policemen.

He said the government should rethink its strategy, saying the poor and helpless were being casualties in the war against drugs while the big fish were being given due process.