Duterte vows to jail policemen behind unlawful killings

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte

:: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday vowed to pursue cases against policemen implicated in unlawful killings. He added that there was no order for the police to kill defenseless people.

Earlier in the day, Duterte met with Carlito and Eva Arnaiz, the parents of 19-year-old Carl Angelo, who police claim was gunned down when he tried to fight off officers after robbing a taxi driver on Aug. 17.

He had been missing for 10 days before his body was found at a morgue in Caloocan City. A forensics report from the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) showed that the teenager was tortured before he was killed, contradicting the police statement.

During their meeting, Duterte gave assurances that the case would be thoroughly and impartially investigated. Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II and PAO chief Persida Acosta were also present.

Duterte said he has ordered Aguirre II to take over the investigation, and promised to pursue cases against the policemen implicated in the killing.

The president added that he is against extrajudicial killings, and those behind them will be jailed.

“We will protect soldiers and policemen… No doubt about it. But always, there has to be the element of the performance of duty. And (police) don’t kill defenseless persons,” he said.

“I will pursue cases against the police, and if need be they should go to jail. I didn’t give an order to kill children or the elderly, or even the enemy on bended knees. That’s not the norm or the rule of a democracy.”

Meanwhile, the body of 14-year-old Reynaldo de Guzman, who was last seen with Carl Angelo, was found floating in a creek on Wednesday. He had “31 stab wounds,” said Gapan City police.

Several lawmakers have expressed outrage over de Guzman’s death. “The brutal stabbing… is a vile, gruesome and barbaric act,” said opposition Sen. Risa Hontiveros.

“Reynaldo, at the tender age of 14, did nothing to deserve such a fate. To be stabbed 31 times is no accident. It’s the pure and simple murder of a child,” she added.

“I hope this removes any doubt, and settles with finality, any discussion of whether or not there’s a pattern and policy of killings under the Duterte government.”

Under Duterte’s war on drugs “there’s a policy to kill,” and “a pattern of killing young and poor people, particularly innocent minors,” Hontiveros said.

“I urge people to stand up and insist that the Duterte government end its abusive war on drugs, which created this culture of killing and impunity in our country.”

Senators Francis Pangilinan, Grace Poe and Bam Aquino also condemned de Guzman’s death.

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