Philippines: Nearly 8,000 police punished over drug killings

A Philippine official said thousands of police officers have received administrative punishments, and more than 2,000 were dismissed, for wrongdoings during raids where drug suspects were killed. (AP)
Updated 18 July 2019

Philippines: Nearly 8,000 police punished over drug killings

  • Up to 14,724 policemen were investigated for their involvement in police drug operations that led to deaths from July 2016 until last April
  • Thousands of drug suspects have been killed in raids carried out by the police

MANILA: Thousands of Philippine police officers have received administrative punishments with more than 2,000 dismissed for wrongdoings during raids where drug suspects were killed under the president’s crackdown, officials said Thursday.

Communications Assistant Secretary Marie Rafael Banaag told a news conference that 14,724 police were investigated for their involvement in police drug operations that led to deaths from July 2016 until last April. She said 7,867 of them received administrative punishments for unspecified lapses.

A tally presented by Banaag showed that 2,367 police officers have been fired, 4,100 suspended while the rest were reprimanded, demoted, had their salaries forfeited or deprived of certain privileges.

Banaag did not say how many officers have been criminally charged for serious lapses or outright crimes committed while enforcing the crackdown, which was launched by President Rodrigo Duterte as his centerpiece program when he took office in mid-2016.

Philippine police officials say about 6,600 drug suspects have been killed in raids carried out by the police mostly in gunbattles that ensued after the suspects fought back and endangered the lives of law enforcers. Banaag and other officials reported a lower death toll, more than 5,500, saying authorities were still verifying other drug-related deaths.

Last year, a Philippine court found three police officers guilty of killing a student they alleged was a drug dealer in the first known such conviction under the crackdown.

The court ruled the officers murdered Kian Loyd delos Santos during a raid in Caloocan city’s slums in the Manila metropolis and rejected the policemen’s claim that the 17-year-old fired back while resisting arrest. Delos Santos’s family and witnesses testified in official investigations that he was shot in a dark alley near a creek as he pleaded for his life.

Delos Santos’s killing and that of a South Korean was allegedly strangled to death by an anti-drugs officer in an extortion attempt prompted Duterte to briefly suspended the drug crackdown amid outcries.

“There are certain flaws probably in what happened during operations but these are actually being addressed,” Undersecretary Severo Catura, an official dealing with human rights issues, said in the news conference.

“That’s why we are saying here that however we’re concerned with regard to apprehending criminals, we’re also that concerned with regard to ensuring that the rule of law is followed,” Catura said.

He added that more than 200 policemen have been killed and 700 others wounded in drug raids — statistics that Duterte himself has often cited to counter allegations by human rights activists that police have killed suspects beyond the law because they violently resisted.

Banaag said it was the first time authorities disclosed the full extent of police who have been disciplined for lapses in the anti-drug crackdown.

Former Commission on Human Rights chairwoman Loretta Ann Rosales, however, said the high number of erring enforcers involved in raids where lives were lost in alarming levels should prompt the government to immediately suspend and review the crackdown.

“It’s terrible, it’s alarming, it’s unconscionable,” Rosales said.

Duterte had rejected those calls and warned drug suspects that his campaign would be more dangerous in the final three years of his six-year presidency.


Islamic scholar Tariq Ramadan targeted by new rape complaint

Updated 25 August 2019

Islamic scholar Tariq Ramadan targeted by new rape complaint

  • A woman in her 50s accused Ramadan of raping her along with a member of his staff
  • He has been charged in France with raping two women previously

PARIS: Tariq Ramadan, a leading Islamic scholar charged in France with raping two women, has also been accused of taking part in the gang rape of a journalist, French judicial sources said Sunday.
The sources confirmed reports on Europe 1 radio and in Le Journal du Dimanche newspaper that a woman in her 50s had accused Ramadan, 56, of raping her along with a member of his staff when she went to interview the academic at a hotel in Lyon in May 2014.
The woman, who filed a criminal complaint in May 2019, also accused Ramadan of issuing “threats or acts of intimidation” aimed at dissuading her from reporting the alleged attack to the police, the judicial sources added.
Ramadan, a married father of four whose grandfather founded Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, was a professor at Oxford University until he was forced to take leave when rape allegations surfaced at the height of the “Me Too” movement in late 2017.
He has denied charges he raped a disabled woman in 2009 and a feminist activist in 2012.
He was taken into custody in February 2018 and held for nine months before being granted bail.
Authorities in Switzerland are also investigating him after receiving a rape complaint in that country.
His lawyer, Emmanuel Marsigny, refused to comment Sunday on the latest allegations against him in France.
The woman behind the latest complaint told police that Ramadan and a male assistant repeatedly raped her in Ramadan’s room at the Sofitel hotel in Lyon.
She described the alleged attack as being of “untold violence” and claimed that when she threatened to report them to the police Ramadan replied: “You don’t know how powerful I am.”
She also claimed that Ramadan had contacted her via the Messenger app in January, two months after his release from jail, saying that he wanted to make her an “offer” of a “professional nature,” without giving details.