“The Siaron case verifies what government has said from the start of the campaign against illegal drugs, that many of these killings were perpetrated by those involved in drug operations and drug traffickers eliminating each other,” Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella added. PCOO/King Rodriguez, File

Palace backs police claim on ‘Pieta’ drug slay
Christina Mendez (The Philippine Star) - October 21, 2017 - 4:00pm

MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang yesterday supported a statement by the Philippine National Police (PNP) that a drug syndicate was behind the killing of drug suspect Michael Siaron.

President Duterte had said that the drug-related killings were not sanctioned by his administration and blamed the killings on drug syndicates, whom he said resorted to purging their assets.

Siaron was shot dead in the EDSA-Taft area on July 23 last year.

A photo showing the body of Siaron cradled by his partner was likened to the Pieta, a 15th-century sculpture by Michaelangelo.

In a speech in Cagayan de Oro last Friday, Duterte noted how his critics in the opposition as well as those from the left took advantage of the killings.

Irked over attacks by critics, Duterte cried foul anew after human rights groups claimed the state is sanctioning the drug-related killings.

“They believed immediately what they read, that there were ten thousand extrajudicial killings. They don’t bother to ask and find out the other side of the story,” he said.

“Drug trafficking is always an organized crime. It cannot be a singular thing, place and person. It has to be organized, there has to be a conspiracy,” he said.

Drugs cannot be manufactured if the syndicates do not trust their lieutenants, Duterte said.

“Illegal drugs has to be manufactured and there has to be lieutenants or your trusted men who will distribute it for you to the peddlers,” he said. 

When he was sworn in as President, Duterte said it came with a mandate to protect the people. 

He said “poor” ones were killed during legitimate police operations because they were actually the target of the illicit drug trade.

Meawnhile, presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella belied allegations that Siaron was a victim of a state-sponsored extrajudicial killing.

“Authorities have put closure on the death of Michael Siaron, whose photo was compared to the Pieta image, after ballistics examination from a recovered firearm revealed that he was killed by a member of a syndicate,” Abella said.

“The Siaron case verifies what government has said from the start of the campaign against illegal drugs, that many of these killings were perpetrated by those involved in drug operations and drug traffickers eliminating each other,” Abella added.

He said the attribution of such killings to police operations was both premature and unfair to law abiding enforcement officers, who risk life and limb to stop the proliferation of illegal drugs in our society.

Abella assured the public that the government is on top of the investigation of those killed under mysterious circumstances. 

Duterte said he is backing up police and military officials in the drug campaign before he officially directed the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency to take the lead in the campaign.

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