Guevarra says drug war report submitted to Duterte; vows to engage with CHR
MANILA, Philippines — Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra has assured the public that the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) would be included in further reports on the review of drug war deaths after the agency noted that it was excluded in the inter-agency panel.
Guevarra said this on Monday as he confirmed that the initial report had been submitted to President Rodrigo Duterte’s office. According to Guevarra, the report submitted is only a partial one, which means that further work — presumably including CHR — is needed.
“The initial report dated 29 (December) 2020 has just been submitted to the Office of the President. Let’s give him time to pore over it,” the Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary told reporters.
“We intend to engage with the CHR in this endeavor. As I said, the initial report is only a partial one,” he added.
Guevarra further said that working on the reports was hampered by the COVID-19 pandemic and travel restrictions, hence the inability to access records and work together.
“Our efforts have been severely hampered by current restrictions on mobility and physical access to records. Much collaborative work remains to be done,” he noted.
Earlier, CHR scored the administration for not its representatives in the inter-agency panel, with Commissioner Karen Gomez-Dumpit saying that this goes against commitments made by the government during the 44th Session of the Human Rights Council.
During this session, Guevarra assured the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) member-states that the Philippine government had created a new high-level team that would look into alleged rights abuses in the conduct of the war against illegal drugs.
“[CHR] acknowledges the announcement of Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra regarding the release of the partial report conducted by a high-level inter-agency panel of the thousands of deaths resulting from the conduct of recent anti-illegal drug operations,” Dumpit said.
“However, we regret that the Commission on Human Rights was not involved in the review, contrary to the commitments and assurances made by the government during the 44th Session of the Human Rights Council. This is an unfulfilled promise to Filipinos and the entire community of nations,” she added.
The assurance of a probe into issues hounding drug war deaths came last June 2020, when he spoke in front of the UNHRC — the same body that was pushed to probe human rights concerns.
The war against illegal drugs has been a primary campaign promise of President Duterte when he ran for office in 2016. While the drug war has led to the seizure of billions worth of illegal drugs, it has received strong condemnation from local and international rights groups amid allegations of extrajudicial killings.
As of November 2020, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency said that 5,980 drug suspects had been killed in legitimate police operations since Duterte became President, while 269,046 have been arrested. [ac]
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