THERE IS NO TRUTH to rumors that Philippine authorities are throwing dead bodies of criminals into Manila Bay for the fishes to feast on.
Malacañang on Monday branded as “hearsay” a report alleging that bodies of drug suspects were being dumped in Manila Bay.
On Friday, Qatar-based news network Al Jazeera published a report quoting a Filipino fisherman as saying that he and his buddies have been dumping bodies of drug suspects in highways and in Manila Bay on the orders of the police.
In a Palace briefing, Senior Deputy Executive Secretary Menardo Guevarra dismissed the report as mere allegations since it has not been substantiated with any other evidence.
“Well, as far as we are concerned, those are mere allegations. If there are no evidence to back that up, then that remains as hearsay,” Guevarra said.
After the report was published, detained Senator Leila de Lima, one President Duterte’s staunchest critics, called for a Senate investigation into the alleged practice, which she dubbed “bangkay sa bangka.”
Senator Leila de Lima on August 3, filed a resolution to probe Al Jazeera’s reports.
The probe will look into how suspects are dumped into Manila Bay under Duterte’s war on drugs, she said.
“These reports point to an alarming and reprehensible defect in our criminal justice system where an apparent cycle of impunity is embedded and reinforced,” she said in a statement.
The detained Senator said police pay fishermen to do the dirty work.
“Unscrupulous law enforcement agents, who are emboldened into summarily executing drug suspects rather than arresting and prosecuting them, are themselves the investigators of the crimes they have committed and are, thus in a unique position to hide their crimes by resorting to various methods of disposing of evidence,” the senator said.
“The manner in which these bodies were disposed of is starkly similar to the way that the members of the DDS allegedly disposed of the remains of some of their victims,” she said.
She was referring to an earlier testimony of Edgar Matobato, a self-proclaimed member of the Davao Death Squad (DDS), that the allegedly Duterte-backed gunmen dumped bodies of their victims into the Davao Gulf.
Duterte had promised during the campaign period that, if elected President, he would “fatten the fish in Manila Bay by dumping 100,000 bodies of drug users and pushers.”
The Senator, who is imprisoned since the last week of February due to drug charges, said the practice may have been one of the reasons why “the number of deaths in the war against drugs has not been updated or altogether been kept from the public.”
The government has repeatedly pointed out to local and foreign critics that the number of deaths being reported as killed in the war against drugs — from 7,000 to 9,000 — were overblown.
Latest Philippine National Police (PNP) data show that a total of 3,200 drug personalities were killed in legitimate anti-drug operations in the first year of the Duterte administration.
The PNP has also determined that out of the 12,833 homicide cases from July 1, 2016 to June 16, 2017, 2,098 deaths were drug-related and 2,535 non-drug related.
In the meantime, police said that a total of 8,200 homicide cases are under investigation “with motives to be determined.” ( with Cielito M. Reganit/PNA)