Guevarra tells UNHRC: PH probing death of 5,655 in drug war
MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine government has created an inter-agency body that will look into the 5,655 casualties in the war on drugs campaign.
Speaking online before the United Nations Human Rights Council’s 44th session on Tuesday, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said he is the chair of the inter-agency body tasked of “conducting a judicious review of the 5,655 anti-illegal drug operations for deaths occurred.”
The 5,655 is the government’s number of deaths in its war on drugs but human rights organizations pegged the number to over 20,000.
Guevarra said the. Philippine National Police is obliged by its internal mechanisms to conduct an investigation even without complainants against its enforcement operations that resulted in deaths.
He said the review panel examines the pieces of evidence to determine if appropriate charges can be filed against the police officers involved.
“This review mechanism will not only reinforce accountability on the job completed [but] it will tighten the web of existing mechanisms to prevent cases of impunity,” he said.
The body, he said, will also engage the affected families and “provide them with legal options and assistance in the criminal prosecution of law enforcers who have overstepped legal bounds in their operations.”
Guevarra further said the Commission on Human Rights will also be involved as an “independent monitory body.”
“Claims that there is impunity, or near impunity in the country finds no anchor in a system that provides every avenue to examine, establish and pursue a claim of wrongdoing by a State actor if such claim is substantiated with facts,” according to the DOJ chief.
He said all allegations of wrongdoing are validated with “due diligence” as he cited cases of convictions of retired Army general Jovito Palparan and members of the prominent Ampatuan clan over the 2009 Maguindanao massacre.
Guevarra also mentioned the indictment of former PNP Chief Oscar Albayalde for his alleged involvement in the controversial 2013 Pampanga drug sting.
Justice Undersecretary and Spokesperson Markk Perete said the inter-agency body chaired by Guevarra is composed of other offices such as the Presidential Communications Operations Office, Department of Interior and Local Government, Department of Foreign Affairs, Presidential Human Rights Committee Secretariat, Presidential Management Staff, Dangerous Drugs Board, Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, PNP, and the National Bureau of Investigation.
Perete said: “Work on the interagency review panel started as early as February this year. Since then, we have ironed out logistical and other requirements for it to function, including the sharing of data and case files by, among others, PDEA and PNP.”
The body, Perete added, will make a report of its work in November.
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