The Department of Justice is coordinating with the police to get thousand more case files on anti-narcotics operations that resulted in deaths, but officials admit they are undertaking “cumbersome” work, and a review of the “war on drugs” may be a task for the next administration.
With less than a year left in the term, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra vowed they will “try to examine as many [cases] as we could.”
So far, the DOJ review of “war on drugs” operations that resulted in deaths, which started in June 2020, have examined files of some 350 cases. The first review covered 300 cases in on a few provinces with the highest incidence of police operations resulting in deaths, particularly in Bulacan and Pampanga.
The second part of the review looked into 52 files from the Philippine National Police’s Internal Affairs Services, where it found direct liability on cops involved in the deadly “war on drugs” operations. A matrix on this was made public on Wednesday.
With just a few months left in the administration, Guevarra admitted that the review will “[depend] on the manpower resources that we can muster and the extent of cooperation that the PNP will extend to us.”
“We may also consider random sampling of cases from all regions. It is possible that certain patterns may be observed without having to examine each and every case file,” he added in a message to reporters.
Latest government figures show that as of August 31, 6,191 persons died in anti-narcotics operations. The government has maintained that those who were killed had resisted arrest but the DOJ-led review has raised questions on the “nanlaban” narrative used by the police.
For the rest of the thousands of other cases, Guevarra said: “We are currently making arrangements for the examination of the rest. I have discussed the matter with the PNP chief [General Guillermo Eleazar], who has committed to cooperate.”
For the next administration
The DOJ is poring over case file after case file, which is a “cumbersome” process, Justice Undersecretary Adrian Sugay admitted in an interview with ONE News’ The Chiefs.
“I guess it becomes more a political issue because it would depend on maybe the next administration to maybe look into this, and maybe look into what happened during this anti-illegal drug campaign, to really examine it to really see what went wrong if there were issues really,” he added.
The DOJ chief meanwhile, is holding off commenting whether the department review will look into whether there is a pattern of policy of the killings, pending submission of defense of cops involved.
“To get the picture, let’s wait for what the respondent police officers will say in their defense,” Guevarra said.
If, however, there is a bigger investigation launched into the killings, Sugay said they are willing to help.
“If at the end of the day, there is a bigger investigation into this whole thing, after we’ve done our part and investigating as much as we can and to really look very earnest into what happened and what this is all about, well you know we’ll gladly help when the time comes, we’ll cross the bridge when we get there,” he said.
The International Criminal Court has launched an investigation into allegations of crimes against humanity against President Rodrigo Duterte and his officials over his bloody “war on drugs.”