CHR hopes DOJ drug war probes to yield more case filings
MANILA, Philippines — The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) hopes that the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) commitment to continuing investigations into the controversial war against illegal drugs will yield impartial findings and more cases filed within appropriate courts.
Lawyer and CHR Executive Director Jacqueline de Guia said in a statement on Friday that they laud Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla’s assurance that the probe and the cooperation with the CHR would continue, as these are part of the official and the agency’s sworn obligations.
Remulla’s predecessor, former Justice secretary and now Solicitor General Menardo Guevarra, initiated the investigation to prove that the government was seriously considering the accusation of rights abuses in the drug war. Along with the probe is an administrative order about data sharing between DOJ and CHR.
“With this, CHR hopes that more cases will reach the court and finally yield impartial court rulings. We also look forward to more law enforcement agencies following the lead of the DOJ in being more open and transparent with their investigations,” de Guia said.
“Such willful actions will exhibit the State’s robust accountability mechanisms that adhere to the rule of law,” she added.
The DOJ’s probe, the CHR official said, now became very important as President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. maintained that the Philippines would not be rejoining the Rome Statute, the international agreement that built the International Criminal Court (ICC).
“With the recent pronouncement of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. not to rejoin the International Criminal Court (ICC), the Philippine government must now uphold complementarity to validate the functionality of our justice system,” De Guia noted.
“On this, we recognize the DOJ’s confirmation that ICC will be furnished with all available information as a matter of comity. SOJ Remulla further declared objectivity, saying that there will be ‘no sacred cows, no matter who they are,” she added.
The probe of the drug war was initially made public by Guevarra during the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) 44th session last June 2020, vowing that his department was then conducting a “judicious review” of 5,655 drug war deaths.
Later that year, the UNHRC stepped away from calls to probe the Philippines’ human rights situation, calling instead for cooperation in terms of helping the said country regarding the issue.
The drug war of former president Rodrigo Duterte has been controversial as critics have deemed it to be too bloody and violent, with at least 6,248 drug suspects killed from July 2016 to April 2020 during legitimate anti-drug operations by state forces.
However, some opposition figures have claimed that the number could be between 12,000 to 30,000 drug war deaths — a figure reflected in the complaints against Duterte and other drug war implementers before the ICC.
Duterte is facing crime against humanity complaints for mass murder, for his role in the drug war. The former president, however, claimed that the drug war was needed to prevent the Philippines from becoming a narco-state.
CHR’s own probe said that the drug war encouraged impunity and failed to protect the people while adding that some police officers had the intent to kill while engaging in operations. The Commission also noted confusing and fake findings in several drug war cases.
Despite the brushes with the past administration, CHR assured the public that it would be willing to work with the government to push for the protection of the people’s human rights and to seek accountability.
“CHR, as an independent national human rights institution, reaffirms its readiness to partner with concerned government offices to advance the progress of investigations and maintain the exercise of due process,” De Guia said.
“Let us remain resolute in our functions and obligations so that we can deliver truth and justice to the most vulnerable of Filipinos,” she added.
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