DOJ starts review of 53 questionable drug operations
MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Justice (DOJ) has started its audit of 53 police antidrug operations that resulted in the death of drug suspects, an official said on Wednesday.
Justice Undersecretary Adrian Sugay said they opted to begin the review of the initial batch of “nanlaban” cases, or incidents wherein drug personalities allegedly fought it out with policemen, pending the approval of the memorandum of agreement between the DOJ and the Philippine National Police.
The two agencies agreed to sign the agreement to formalize their coordination in looking into thousands of killings of drug personalities attributed to President Duterte’s bloody war on drugs.
“We are currently evaluating the 53 cases. We will have to finish this [first batch of cases],” Sugay told reporters.
“A team of DOJ lawyers is undertaking the evaluation,” he added.
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra earlier disclosed that new PNP chief Gen. Guillermo Eleazar, who took the helm of the 220,000-strong force on May 7, had acceded to the DOJ’s request to check the PNP’s records on police operations that led to the death of drug suspects.
Guevarra said Eleazar’s decision ended his predecessors’ policy that made it “rather difficult” for a DOJ-led review panel to carry out the President’s order to look into the government’s brutal drug war.
But barely a week later, Mr. Duterte invoked national security when he claimed that police records on his administration’s antinarcotics drive should be kept from the public since these contained confidential information about certain personalities.
His pronouncement contradicted the Supreme Court’s ruling in 2018, which declared that records involving the deaths of drug suspects during police operations had nothing to do with national security.
Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon had also weighed on in the issue, citing the public’s right to “know the truth.”
“To claim that it involves national security is unfounded. By any stretch of the imagination, I could not think how would a single poorest of the poor Filipino, who was killed in an antinarcotics operation, have planned to overthrow the government?” the senator, who also served as justice secretary, said in a statement.
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