Killing by po­lice of fa­ther and son tied to drug war

Honolulu Star-Advertiser - - NATION & WORLD -

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.

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