More than 2,500 people have been killed during President Duterte’s war, but can he win?
A Senate committee in the Philippines is addressing the police killing of a 17-year-old student – a case that has drawn widespread condemnation at home and internationally.
Senator Panfilo Lacson, chairman of the Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs, led Thursday’s investigation into the accountability of the Philippine National Police during a nationwide “war on drugs”.
The probe is broad and will examine a recent increase in police killings, with a focus on the high-profile death of the teenager.
Police fatally shot Kian Loyd Delos Santos on August 17 in the capital, Manila, amid allegations that he was framed by three officers.
Al Jazeera’s Jamela Alindogan, reporting from Manila, said the investigation is being received well by the public and proving to be a tipping point for those who support President Rodrigo Duterte‘s war on drugs.
“The Senate investigation cannot prosecute and cannot file cases but such investigations are televised on national television and are followed by the public, which exposes the loopholes in the system, the inconsistency of police operations and the need for a more coherent approach,” she said.
Delos Santos was one of the scores killed over a number of days as police went on a shooting spree, heeding calls by Duterte to crackdown on suspects and win the “war on drugs”.
Witnesses said police forced the teenager to hold a gun, fire and run.
CCTV footage from the Manila suburb of Caloocan showed Delos Santos being carried by two men to a place where his body was later found, raising doubt over an official report that claimed he was shot because he fired at police officers first.
According to the police report, Delos Santos ran when he saw officers approaching him. He then pulled out a gun and opened fire at the policemen, who shot back.
But witnesses told local media that the teenager was unarmed.
Duterte in spotlight
Duterte now faces intense scrutiny over the crackdown, which until now had been largely popular in the Philippines.
Even Duterte has said he could not justify the high-profile killing of a high school student. If investigations showed police did not follow instructions, they would face justice, he warned.
Earlier last week, 67 people were shot and nearly 250 arrested in Manila and provinces adjoining the Philippine capital, in what police described as a “one-time, big-time” push to curb drugs and street crime.
According to police statistics, more than 3,000 suspects have been killed in anti-drug operations since Duterte became president on June 30, 2016.