Duterte to allow media on drug raids to disprove killings

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — The Philippine president ordered police on Tuesday to let journalists join raids in his crackdown on illegal drugs to disprove growing allegations of extrajudicial killings, but warned reporters they could get shot.

President Rodrigo Duterte issued the order in a news conference after a televised Senate investigation into the allegations in which the national police chief, Ronald dela Rosa, wept over what he said was his exasperation over unfair allegations against his men.

“Now, this is an order: Bring the media and let them go first so that they can get the story from the beginning to the end,” Duterte said, explaining that when journalists are called in when a gunbattle is over, they’ll say, “Ah, they just dumped the guns on the suspects.”

“If you get shot, will you still believe that those (suspects) have no guns? Go ahead,” the president said, adding that journalists should take positions beside law enforcers during raids on suspected drug dealers’ hideouts.

Duterte’s crackdown, which has left thousands of suspects dead and horrified human rights groups, came under renewed scrutiny after police gunned down a 17-year-old student, Kian Loyd delos Santos, during a raid in a slum in the Manila metropolis last month.

Police said delos Santos was a drug dealer who fired at officers during the raid, but his family and witnesses testified in official investigations, including in the Senate, that he was shot in a dark alley as he pleaded for his life.

Witnesses pointed to evidence, including a village security video, which they said showed two police officers dragging away the teenager shortly before shots rang out and he was found fatally shot in the head, holding a pistol with his left hand although his parent said he was right-handed. The police officers testified in the Senate that delos Santos was not the man seen being dragged in the video, although several witnesses doubted the police statement.

Murder and torture complaints have been filed against three police officers and their commander in the Aug. 16 shooting of delos Santos. Amid a growing outcry, Duterte has said the officers will end up in jail if they killed delos Santos and met the student’s grieving parents to express his condolences.

Duterte has recently been clearer in warning officers they will face the law if they are found to have carried out extrajudicial killings. Before, he promised to defend police from lawsuits and grant them a presidential pardon if they are…

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