Sunday, October 17, 2021

Police grant DOJ access to records of drug-related killings

THE Philippine National Police (PNP) has given the Department of Justice (DOJ) free access to cases involving deaths linked to the drug war as part of the organization’s intensified cleansing efforts, PNP Chief Guillermo Eleazar said.

Eleazar said he and DOJ Secretary Menardo Guevarra signed last week an agreement to intensify their partnership in investigating cases of alleged extrajudicial killings (EJKs).

“I assure our good Justice Secretary that the PNP has no tolerance for rogues, including those who may have committed unjustified killings in the course of anti-illegal drug operations, and that we are serious in cleansing our ranks,” he said.

“Our agencies both committed to address this long-time concern on EJKs and we see the agreement as a step towards further strengthening our ties. Our willingness to open some of our records to the DOJ is already a big development in terms of our relations,” he added.

Eleazar said the PNP has initially granted access to 61 records of investigation, in which the PNP Internal Affairs Service had found administrative or criminal liability on the part of policemen.

He said more records may be made available to the DOJ.

Guevarra said non-disclosure of such PNP records made their review of the cases difficult over the past years.

“What is significant right now is that the DOJ has been given free access, something that did not happen in previous years, thereby making our review rather difficult,” he said in a message to reporters.

“The DOJ, however, will continue to examine case records available from its regional prosecution offices other than those covered in its initial report,” he added.

Guevarra said the prosecution’s biggest challenge is the unwillingness of witnesses to come forward and testify.

President Rodrigo Duterte earlier created an inter-agency panel led by the DOJ to review anti-drugs police operations which resulted in the death of the suspects.

Guevarra told the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) that there were at least 5,655 police operations under “judicious review.”

They aim to determine whether charges should be filed against the policemen involved in the said cases.

The DOJ secretary submitted another report to the UNHRC in February, in which he said the police have maintained that those who died in the operations resisted arrest.

The investigating panel, however, found out that some weapons allegedly recovered from the resisting suspects were not fully examined nor subjected to ballistic examination.

“It was also noted, among others, that in more than half of the records reviewed, the law enforcement agents involved failed to follow standard protocols pertaining to coordination with other agencies and processing of the crime scene,” Guevarra said earlier.

From July 2016 to April 30, 2021, 6,117 alleged suspects were killed during the conduct of 200,632 anti-drug operations. (SunStar Philippines)


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