‘Recycling’ of cops can be used in ICC probe

The “recycling” of two senior police officers who were relieved last year should be used by the International Criminal Court (ICC) as evidence in its investigation into the administration’s bloody war on drugs, a human rights group said on Sunday.

Chief Supt. Roberto Fajardo, former Northern Police District (NPD) director, is now head of the Philippine National Police’s Highway Patrol Group while Senior Supt. Chito Bersaluna, the relieved Caloocan City police chief, has been promoted to Bulacan provincial director.


Both were sacked in August 2017 after Caloocan policemen killed 17-year-old Kian Loyd delos Santos during an anticriminality operation, spurring a national reckoning over the drug war that the ICC is investigating as a possible crime against humanity. The Caloocan City police is under the jurisdiction of the NPD.

“The promotions really show direct complicity of the executive [in] these killings,” Cristina Palabay, secretary general of Karapatan, told the Inquirer. “It should be used as additional evidence when presented before the ICC.”


Assignments as rewards

In a statement, she also characterized the new assignments as “proof of how the Duterte government rewards the most avid implementers of its murderous war on drugs.”

According to Palabay, the only appropriate action would have been to both dismiss and prosecute Fajardo and Bersaluna “by virtue of command responsibility.”

PNP Director General Oscar Albayalde earlier defended the appointments, reasoning out that no cases had been filed against the two officials who were relieved simply to “pave the way for an impartial investigation.”

“They have not done anything to stop the killings at all,” Palabay countered. “In human rights parlance, we say that shows either the complicity or the direct role of the higher officials concerned.”

Albayalde himself, as head of the Metro Manila police force at the time, had ordered Bersaluna’s relief. Fajardo was sacked by Albayalde’s predecessor, former PNP Director General Ronald dela Rosa.

Palabay said in an interview that Bersaluna and Fajardo had not only defended their men’s role in Delos Santos’ killing, but also “justified and encouraged” it.


New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) had also criticized the new posts given to the relieved police officials.

“The high-level promotions of two senior police officers who oversaw the drug war’s bloodiest locales are a cruel affront to the families of victims,” it said.

Ground zero

Caloocan City, according to HRW, has been “ground zero” in the war on drugs due to the scores of killings that occurred in the area.

“[The promotions] underscore the importance of an ICC preliminary investigation [of] the killings and the need for a parallel United Nations investigations to ensure accountability for those deaths,” it said.

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TAGS: Chito Bersaluna, Cristina Palabay, drug killings, EJKs, extrajudicial killings, ICC, International Criminal Court, Kian Loyd delos Santos, Roberdo Fajardo, war on drugs
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