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PNP may share slain suspects’ files with ICC

/ 07:30 AM February 15, 2018

The Philippine National Police is willing to share with the International Criminal Court (ICC) the case files of drug suspects killed in police operations.

“If there will be an order, we will … cooperate with them,” Chief Supt. John Bulalacao, the PNP spokesperson, said in an interview on Wednesday.

Bulalacao said the PNP would share the case files with ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda if this was cleared by his superiors.

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Last week, the ICC launched a preliminary examination of the alleged extrajudicial killings (EJKs) under President Duterte’s brutal war on drugs.

The process will determine if there is basis to conduct a formal investigation of allegations that Mr. Duterte committed crimes against humanity.

The ICC’s initial inquiry is designed to help prosecutors determine if there is enough evidence of crimes that fall into its jurisdiction. It could lead to a full probe and, eventually, charges.

Request turned down

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) had been trying to get its hands on the case files of those killed in police antidrug operations, but the President turned down the request in September last year.

Mr. Duterte had said that all “investigations to be conducted on police and military … pertaining to human rights violations have to be cleared” with him first.

But in December last year, the PNP gave the CHR access to the police spot reports, while requests for the whole case folders — which includes the forensic, investigation and inventory reports — would still be reviewed.

The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency said that a total of 4,021 “drug personalities” died after they fought back with security forces in antinarcotics operations from July 1, 2016, to Feb. 8, 2018.

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The ICC investigation stemmed from the case filed in April 2017 by lawyer Jude Josue Sabio, the counsel of the so-called Davao Death Squad hit man Edgar Matobato.

8,000 EJKs

In his 77-page complaint, Sabio alleged that Mr. Duterte and other top police and government officials were guilty of crimes against humanity due to the bloody war on drugs.

The complaint filed in the ICC alleges around 8,000 EJKs, while human rights groups estimate the actual death toll is more than 12,000, many of them assassinated by suspected vigilantes.

Malacañang on Wednesday reiterated its respect for human rights.

“While we know that the complaints filed before the ICC are founded on political motives and baseless numbers, we reiterate [that] the Philippine government respects and protects human rights,” Presidential Communications Assistant Secretary Marie Rafael-Banaag said in a media briefing.

“Our police officers follow [the] rules of engagement. There maybe isolated cases of abuse but our President never tolerates [them],” she added.

Bulalacao said the PNP had allocated P344 million this year to buy body cameras that would be used in antidrug operations. The body cameras will be delivered by June or July this year. —With a report from AFP

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TAGS: CHR, Commission on Human Rights, Davao Death Squad, drug killings, EJKs, extrajudicial killings, ICC, International Criminal Court, John Bulalacao, PNP, Rodrigo Duterte, war on drugs
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