Leila de Lima’s EJK inquiry demoralises the police and contradicts her own guidelines


It is Day Two in the on-going Senate inquiry on drug-related “extrajudicial killings” headed by Senator Leila de Lima. So far, the circus has resulted only in the highlighting of the indifference and incompetence applied by the government of former President Benigno Simeon ‘BS’ Aquino III to combatting the drug problem. It has also made evident the insensitivity of de Lima to the plight of the Philippines’ police force whose officers are at the front line of a never-ending campaign against criminality across the archipelago.

The last thing Filipinos need, now that we are getting better insight into the breadth and depth of the Philippines’ drug problem, is a police force demoralised by incessant demonisation by its own leaders. Interestingly enough, it was a technical detail raised by Senator Alan Peter Cayetano today that undermines de Lima’s case against President Rodrigo Duterte’s “war on crime”: that the term “extrajudicial killings” (EJK) while applicable to victims that are (or were, at the time leading to the killing, perceived to be) media practitioners or affiliated with cause-oriented groups, is not applicable to common criminals.

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Indeed, this is made clear in a guideline issued by the Department of Justice (DOJ) in 2013 signed by then DOJ Secretary Leila de Lima herself. The guideline is part of Administrative Order No. 35 detailing operational guidelines applicable to the investigation of cases involving EJKs and “extra-legal killings” (ELKs).

For purposes of the focused mandate of AO No . 35, killings related to common criminals and/or the perpetration of their crimes shall be addressed by other appropriate, mechanisms within the justice system.

In short, the homicides being reported in the media which are supposedly drug-related and perpetrated allegedly by either state agents (such as police officers) or by vigilantes were inappropriately labelled as EJKs both by media producers and authors, human rights “activists”, and critics of the Duterte government.

The habitual way these so-called “activists” issue uninformed conclusions and judgments is quite telling considering most of them are rabid supporters of the Aquino administration under which this administrative order was formulated.

Cayetano, consistent to de Lima’s own guideline, thus points out that “critics of President Rodrigo Duterte’s anti-drugs campaign are wrongfully branding drug-related casualties as extrajudicial killings.”

“Are we [therefore] using the term ‘extrajudicial killings’ loosely to discredit the PNP and Duterte administration? I was hoping that we could educate the people more, para hindi sila ma-mislead na lahat ng patayan [ngayon] ay extrajudicial killings,” Cayetano said in his opening statement during the Senate hearing.

[Tagalog excerpt translated: I was hoping that we could educate the people more so that they will not be misled into thinking that all the killings being reported today are extrajudicial killings…]

It even seems that AO No. 35 was crafted by de Lima to reduce — on a technicality — the number of homicides that could be reported as EJKs under the Aquino administration…

Of the 1,400 people killed during the Aquino administration, only 395 were categorized as extrajudicial killings, Cayetano said. Most killings involving common crimes were identified as “riding-in-tandem” cases.

This is likely a result of the Aquino government’s own failed initiatives to curb rampant EJKs during his own term, preferring instead to focus the first two years of his presidency on persecuting enemies. According to a Human Rights Watch (HRW) report issued in 2012, “The Aquino government has not successfully prosecuted a single case of extrajudicial killing or enforced disappearance, including those committed during his presidency…”

Two years into the Aquino presidency, HRW remained unimpressed.

“President Aquino has not lived up to his promises to bring those responsible for serious abuses to justice,” said Elaine Pearson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “Concrete measures — rather than more promises — are needed now.”

This is not surprising in light of how more than half of those 12 months were squandered by the BS Aquino administration impeaching the late former Chief Justice Renato Corona on trumped-up charges using illegally-acquired evidence, in what is now considered to be no more than a Kangaroo Court.

In its usual defensive — and often pompous — form Malacañang then issued a statement in response to the HRW report…

Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda called on Human Rights Watch based in New York City to provide any information on the perpetrators of extra-judicial killings, saying the government would not hesitate to bring these criminals to justice.

Lacierda stressed it was the State’s responsibility to protect the lives and liberties of every Filipino from fear and oppression.

“We have always maintained that we frown upon extra-judicial killings. The government has a policy on going after the perpetrators of extra judicial killings, Lacierda said.

Yet Lacierda was also reportedly quick to wash the administration’s hands of any responsibility for seeing through to resolution these human rights cases. Instead, he cited how “the ball is now with the judicial branch of government, with the courts themselves.” Lacierda also cited the doctrine of “separation of powers” to highlight further how Malacañang should be considered off the hook as far as bringing justice to victims of human rights abuses. “I cannot understand why Human Rights Watch would be blaming the Aquino administration or the executive branch for the seemingly slow pace of judicial action. That is something that is within the purview of the judiciary,” Lacierda said. Lacierda also added: “I do not necessarily agree with the position of Human Rights Watch” after citing statistical data that supposedly points to a decrease in some sort of crime “index”.

Carlos Conde, researcher at the Asian Division of HRW begged to differ

“Edwin Lacierda is uninformed at best, dishonest at worst. While it is true that conviction of cases lies with the courts, it is also true that only a small number of human-rights abuse cases are filed in court. Most of these cases do not make it to trial to begin with,” [said Conde]

So there you go. Senator de Lima, a key figure in the Aquino government seems to be suffering from the usual selective amnesia in her campaign to discredit the Duterte administration. Unfortunately for de Lima, this little circus she kicked up continues to boomerang against her.

[Photo courtesy GMA News Online.]

23 Replies to “Leila de Lima’s EJK inquiry demoralises the police and contradicts her own guidelines”


    “Extrajudicial killings” is defined by law as killings due to the political affiliation of the victims; having a specific method of attack; and where there are reports of involvement or acquiescence of state agents in the commission of the killings. As the term is used in international instruments, extrajudicial killings are killings committed without due process of law, i. e. without legal safeguards or judicial proceedings. Enforced disappearance on the other hand is defined as deprivation of liberty for political reasons committed by or with the authorization, support or acquiescence of the State. These are disappearances or abductions attended by an arrest, abduction, or detention of a person by a government official or organized groups or private individuals acting with the direct or indirect acquiescence of the government. It involves the refusal of the State to disclose the fate or whereabouts of the person concerned or a refusal to acknowledge the deprivation of liberty which places such persons outside of the protection of law.

    In this jurisdiction, extrajudicial killings are almost synonymous to political killings. It would appear that all extrajudicial killings are impelled by some form of political motive or agenda. Further, the usual victims of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances are political activists, journalists, or media persons.”

    Extrajudicial Killings, Victims

    1) Political Activists

    2) Journalists & Media Persons

    (Source: Report on Philippine Extrajudicial Killings from 2001-August 2010 / Al A. Parreño, author. – Makati City: The Asia Foundation, c2011.)

  2. Headline should be “Leila de Lima’s EJK inquiry TRIED BUT FAILED TO DEMORALIZE the police and contradicts her own guidelines.

    I think her real goal from the start was to demotivate the police by portraying them as murderers and filing cases against their comrades. She wants the morale of the police to go down in order to stop the momentum of the war on drugs. Why? According to Duterte’s exposes, because she’s a drug lord coddler, either directly or indirectly through her driver-lover.

  3. De Lima is the protector of the Drug Lords. She is now branding every murder or homicide : extra judicial killing.

    Senate Inquiries produces nothing. The Senate Inquiries on the : Luneta Chinese tourist massacre; the Mamapasano massacre; etc…did not convict anybody. It did not even point to, who was responsible, for the massacre.

    In truth, the people responsible for the Mamapasano massacre are: Aquino; Mar Roxas; Purisima; etc…were they prosecuted?

    Senate Inquiries are part of the Political Zarzuela. They are waste of time and people’s money, especially, if it is headed by De Lima, who has no credibility.

  4. Were people not so blinded, it’s as plain as daylight…

    Leila de Lima = Drug trade and drug lords coddler, champion and protector. Preserver of social decadence. Political opportunist. Obstructionist. Enemy of progress. Former Secretary of INjustice. Basically, just a rotten apple. A wolf in sheep’s clothing.

  5. bring up now HR 105 probe and prosecute de lima if she’s found guilty right away. and then up to the next stair. there’s no victims of martial law except those who want to throw away the Motherland to destroy the country, its sons and daughters.

    1. president duterte should not change course he should go straight path turn the page everyday for a real change. lots of yellow left overs trying hard to derail him. WHY?

  6. Delaying tactics is a waste of time and money, this is what Emperor Nero did just fiddled to entertain Rome while it is burning. Enough of this BS!

  7. Whether or not they prove some killings by the police are EJKs, the cleanup of the drug problem has to go on.. And how are the police supposed to their job without the odds that some sort of violence would occur? Although important issues have been raised, it’s being turned into a shitty inquiry because of yellow motives.
    “Nagbobolahan lang tayo dito”- Duterte

  8. Salient Provisions of the Operational Guidelines
    of AO 35 series of 2012

    1. Definition of Terms (Article I)

    1.Extra-Legal Killings (ELK) or Extra-Judicial Killings (EJK)—refer to killings wherein:

    a. The victim was either:

    i. A member of, or affiliated with an organization, to include political,
    environmental, agrarian, labor, or similar causes; or
    ii. An advocate of above-named causes; or
    iii. A media practitioner; or
    iv. Person(s) apparently mistaken or identified to be so.

    b. The victim was targeted and killed because of his/her actual or perceived membership, advocacy, or profession;

    c. The person/s responsible for the killing is a state agent or non-state agent;

    d. The method and circumstances of the attack reveal a deliberate intent to kill.

    Killings related to common criminals and/or the perpetration of their crimes shall be addressed by other appropriate mechanisms within the justice system.


    1. Proof, if any were needed, that Filipino lawyers don’t have the brains they were born with.

      – What exactly is the point of (a) and (b)? If you’re executed by the police because they don’t like you, or – a notable omission – because you might be a drug dealer, it’s not an ELK?

      – The union of the sets ‘state actor’ and ‘non-state actor’ is ‘everybody’.

      – If the perpetrator can make it look like an accident, (d) suggests that everything is just a-OK.

      “Killings related to common criminals” assumes that the person killed is ASSUMED TO BE guilty. Which is the definition of EXTRA-JUDICIAL.

      Utter retards, the lot of them. What hope does the country have when you’ve got borderline cretins writing the laws?

  9. That inappropriate terminology was used by well near everyone concerned with the deaths of over a thousand people — in legitimate police operations (the events leading to almost every death bearing a suspicious regularity, and with family members and neighbors piping up in increasing numbers about the non-involvement of the deceased in the drug trade), by roving teams of gun-toting motorcycle-riding assassins (none of which have been apprehended to this day), and by people with an excessive fondness for cardboard, packaging tape, and vigilantism — should not, in my opinion, dissuade anyone from conducting investigations as to why so many people have died.

    1. Kung hindi pa kayo mababahala sa dami ng namamatay, sa paulit-ulit na rationale ng mga pulis kung bakit nila kailangang patayin, at sa dami ng nagsasabing tumigil na sa paghihithit ng shabu o pagbebenta nito (at may mga kasong di pa nga gumagamit o nagbebenta in the first place) — kung maging sa actual recording ng pagpatay sa pedicab driver o sa pagpatay sa natutulog nang mahimbing e wala pa rin kayong pakialam — e ilan pa ang kailangang mamatay bago kayo matauhang hindi na normal ang nangyayari dito sa Pilipinas?

      1. e ilan pa ang kailangang mamatay bago kayo matauhang hindi na normal ang nangyayari dito sa Pilipinas?

        Many victims have died way before Duterte casted an eye towards the presidential seat. The have died in the hands of the police, in the hands of people seeking revenge, in the hands of mindless drug-addicts, even in the hands of polititians.

        The situation here in the Philippines has never been normal. Our culture is abnormal. So many people here are willing to cheat or kill just to get what they want. From taxi drivers all the way up to polititians, they are all willing to cheat everyone for their advantage.

        Now I don’t condone all the killings done under the current administration, but don’t expect people to suddenly give a crap about alleged criminals dropping dead. No one – not the polititians, not the CHR, not the activists – did anything major to deal with innocent victims dying everyday in this country. Only the rich, the powerful, and a handful of middle class citizens received justice when they were greatly wronged. So why should the common people now have to care that alleged criminals are dropping like flies?

        I’m not saying that it’s right that they should not care. I’m just saying, with the way things were before, I understand why they don’t care at all. Even when they were wronged, the government didn’t lift a finger to help them.

  10. Instead of investigating the Extra Judicial killings of Drug Lords, De Lima is protecting. She should investigate, herself and her driver lover, on their activities, with the Drug Lords…

    De Lima should investigate, who took the pornographic video, while she and he driver lover, were having sex !

    De Lima, should investigate, who is protecting the Drug Lords and the cause of the proliferation of the illegal Drugs in our country…

    These are more important issues, she should look into. And by the way: can she investigate herself? It was under her watch, that these crimes were committed!

  11. It is Aquino, De Lima, her driver lover, sex, lies, recorded sex cds, drug lords, murders and political zarzuela…only in the Philippines !

  12. Please don’t get carried away by the definition of EJK. There is a universal and perceived definition of EJK that existed even before Administrative Order 35 was made. EJK was just sort of ‘re-defined’ in the guidelines of that AO35 ‘for the purposes of operationalization and implementation of AO35’. So meaning that EJK definition only applies within the context of that AO. That’s not the EJK that Sen De Lima, CHR and other people are complaining about. It’s more of the universal EJK defined ages ago and understood internationally which Philip Alston (CHR) defined 10 years ago as ‘any killing by govt forces…..which the govt failed to investigate, prosecute or punish when it’s in a position to do so’. The sad thing is that’s not the priority of the Du30 government. But if you still want to use AO35, at least acknowledge its initial statement that says ‘no person shall be deprived of life…without due process of law’ (including criminals).

  13. disinformation
    dis·in·for·ma·tion | \ (ˌ)dis-ˌin-fər-ˈmā-shən \
    : false information deliberately and often covertly spread (as by the planting of rumours) in order to influence public opinion or obscure the truth

    How disinformation of 20,000 EJKs became international news.

    Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, since he got elected on June 30, 2016, made every effort to meet the grisly goal of eradicating crime, corruption, and illegal drugs.

    Reuters, an international news organization, in its February 2018 report states that the Philippines government confirmed “5,532 people had been killed in anti-drug police operations nationwide since June 2016”.

    The same news reported that another 16,355 homicide cases – from July 1, 2016, to September 30, 2017 – have been classified as “under investigation.”

    Aljazeera, a media outlet, quoted Philippines opposition Senator Antonio Trillanes, “the death toll in the government’s war on drugs has already surpassed 20,000 since President Rodrigo Duterte came to office in 2016”. Its headline screamed, “Senator: Rodrigo Duterte’s drug war has killed 20,000.”

    Rappler News and ABS CBN News continued to use that reference that President Duterte’s brutal drug war has claimed the lives of at least 20,000 through a “reprehensible practice of extrajudicial killing” (EJK).

    Roberto Tiglao of Manila Times, in 2020 opined that they are “journalism” of the most despicable kind: They spread false, fake news for using the “20,000” figure of most of the newspapers, which has been proven to be totally without basis, with the government’s figure of about 6,000 fatalities accepted by most.

    Despite the ill-omened report, the Pulse Asia survey, conducted in September 2020 with in-person interviews with 1,200 adult Filipinos, found that 91% of respondents approved President Duterte of his performance and personality.

    The Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte remains hugely popular because of his man-of-the-people style and perception of decisive leadership and success in fighting crime and corruption. Duterte was able to bring back the public confidence in state institutions.

    One of New York Times news articles traced the root of the problem from Mr. Duterte’s predecessor, Benigno Aquino III. The Filipinos’ frustration with the government’s inability to provide basic security led to rising public demand for new leaders who would take more decisive action to provide protection.

    Thank you for the enlightenment, Mr. GRP

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