PNP vows to cooperate in drug war probe
MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine National Police said on Saturday that it would cooperate in any investigation of the Reuters special report, which found evidence of tampering with the death certificates of those killed in the government’s war on drugs.
“While the PNP respects the pronouncements made by other agencies or groups regarding the illegal drug cases involving police personnel, this organization has maintained its position to adhere to the judicial system,” Police Brig. Gen. Augustus Alba, chief public information officer of the PNP, said in a statement.
“The PNP has always shown willingness to cooperate in any proceeding by providing the necessary documents as properly requested by the courts or other investigating bodies,” he added.
Citing cases examined by forensic pathologist Dr. Raquel Fortun, Reuters reported that the death certificates of at least 15 drug war victims did not reflect the violent manner in which police and family members said they died.
Those death certificates said the deceased succumbed to natural causes, such as pneumonia or hypertension, instead of saying they were shot, it added.
The report also examined the unpublished findings of the Medical Action Group (MAG), a Manila-based group of medical professionals whose work focused on suspected human rights abuses.
According to Reuters, MAG’s analysis of 107 death certificates issued between July 2016 and June 2019 during the height of the drug war found that the majority of these cited natural causes, used “vague terminology” for the cause of death, or left it blank.
The PNP said it was conducting its own internal investigation, whenever a police officer was reported to have violated the law and its code of conduct.
“Rest assured that the PNP will take necessary actions by filing administrative and criminal cases against those personnel allegedly involved in illegal drugs,” Alba said, adding that the PNP had sanctioned 21,306 police officers from July 2016 to May 2022.
In April, when Fortun first bared her findings about the falsified death certificates of those killed in illegal drugs, the PNP said it would investigate the allegations, but only if these would be forwarded to them.
The latest official data show that at least 6,248 people were killed in law enforcement operations as of end-February. Local and international human rights groups claim more were killed, but they lacked documentation that could lead to criminal prosecution.
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Total drug war deaths at 6,248 as of April 30 — PDEA
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