Top gov’t execs also liable for drug suspects’ deaths
Senior government officials are not exempted from liabilities regarding the questionable deaths of drug suspects, Justice Undersecretary Adrian Sugay said on Friday as he stressed that the findings of a panel led by the Department of Justice (DOJ) were just preliminary.
Sugay made the clarification after critics claimed that the report to the United Nations of Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra on the investigation into President Duterte’s bloody war on drugs was just a “smokescreen” to absolve top government executives who enabled extrajudicial killings.
He said the review panel would discuss the filing of appropriate cases against erring policemen who failed to comply with existing protocols in carrying out antidrug operations that led to the deaths of drug suspects.
“What we have thus far is an initial report. And we intend to continue the review of cases involving anti-illegal drug operations where deaths occurred,” Sugay told the Inquirer.
Two police officers, a Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency agent and a PDEA informer were killed while an officer and three PDEA agents were wounded during a shootout after a buy-bust operation near Ever Gotesco Mall on busy Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City.
The heads of both the Philippine National Police and the PDEA, could not explain the “misencounter” that happened during the operation but vowed that those found responsible would be held accountable.
Protocols not followed
Asked if higher authorities would be held liable for their failure to keep their subordinates in check, Sugay said, “Any and all possible administrative/criminal liability against those involved in these anti-illegal drug operations where deaths occurred may be pursued depending on any further findings/recommendations.”
“We intend to come out with further findings and recommendations,” the justice official added.
In a video message on Wednesday night, Guevarra told the UN Human Rights Council that half of the police operations covered by the review “failed to follow standard protocols pertaining to coordination with other agencies and the processing of the crime scene.”
He disclosed that personnel of the PNP involved in “nanlaban” cases, or incidents that led to the deaths of suspects who allegedly resisted arrest, did not conduct “full examination of the weapons recovered” after the operations.
“No verification of its [firearms] ownership was undertaken. No request for ballistic examination or paraffin test was pursued until its completion,” Guevarra said.
Sugay said the DOJ-led review panel had already submitted its initial recommendations to the PNP to help its officials determine who among their personnel should face administrative and criminal charges for the deaths of the drug suspects.
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