Killing by police of father and son tied to drug war
Even amid the slaughter of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs, the killings of Renato and Jaypee Bertes stand out.
The Bertes men, father and son, shared a tiny room with six other people in a metropolitan Manila slum, working odd jobs when they could find them. Both smoked shabu, a cheap form of methamphetamine that has become a scourge in the Philippines. Sometimes Jaypee Bertes sold it in small amounts, relatives said.
So it was unsurprising when police raided their room last month.
They were arrested and taken to a police station where, investigators say, they were severely beaten, then shot to death.
Police said the two had tried to escape by seizing an officer’s gun. But a forensic examination found that the men had been incapacitated by the beatings before they were shot.
“There is no justification at all,” said Gwendolyn Pimentel-Gana, a member of the Philippine Commission on Human Rights, which investigated the case.
The two men are among more than 800 people who have been killed by police officers and vigilantes since the May election of Duterte, who has repeatedly called for killing drug dealers and users. Most have been killed by police officers, in encounters the police characterize as confrontations or self-defense. More than 200 have been attributed to vigilantes.
The Bertes case is one of the rare killings to prompt legal action. Two of the officers involved have been suspended, and police said they would be charged with murder.
The case is one of several expected to be the focus of potentially explosive hearings next week before the Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights.