Accountability for justice: Asking PNP execs to resign does nothing — HRW
MANILA, Philippines — Human Rights Watch (HRW) has warned that just asking for the resignations of senior police officials is not enough to ensure that those responsible for crimes and abuses committed during the war on drugs are brought to justice.
Carlos Conde, senior researcher at Human Rights Watch, is wary of Interior Secretary Benjamin Abalos Jr.’s demand for police officers to resign from their posts.
Conde believes the move serves to avoid accountability for officers who have committed abuse, including those linked to drug-related killings. Abalos stated this was a ‘shortcut’ to get rid of PNP members involved in the drug trade instead of disciplining them the traditional way.
“We find Abalos’s statement preposterous. It betrays not only the government’s unwillingness to go after perpetrators of ‘drug war’ abuses — it insults the memory of the thousands of Filipinos who have died in the ‘drug war’,” Conde said.
“It does not serve the cause of justice and accountability, far from it. Worse, it is a cynical ploy that allows abusers to evade accountability, especially because Abalos invoked the defects of the criminal justice and judicial systems to try to justify his idea,” he added.
Conde urged for police colonels and generals to be investigated and charged rather than resign.
Conde suggested the International Criminal Court (ICC) should investigate the country’s drug war if the administration thinks it will take too long.
“What Philippine authorities should be doing is investigate these police officials and file appropriate charges in court if warranted,” Conde said.
“Moreover, this only underscores the need for the International Criminal Court to continue investigating the ‘drug war’ abuses in the Philippines and for international bodies, such as the United Nations and the European Union, to take accountability in the Philippines seriously,” he added.
In an earlier briefing, Abalos called on high-ranking police officials, including Philippine National Police (PNP) commander Gen. Rodolfo Azurin, to resign voluntarily over suspicions of drug trafficking.
Azurin and other officers endorsed it.
A five-person group without Abalos or Azurin will evaluate police courtesy resignations.
If the panel finds linkages between police officers and the drug trade, they will resign and be fired.
READ: Abalos seeks courtesy resignation of all PNP colonels, generals amid possible drug links
READ: PNP chief Azurin not spared from courtesy resignation — Abalos
Abalos’ action has been criticized by more than just the HRW.
The Gabriela party-list shares the view that the calls for police resignations are an attempt to deflect responsibility for the failed drug war.
Gabriela has also questioned the timing of the announcement, stating that it coincides with a number of ongoing problems such as the technological failures encountered by the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) that necessitated the cancellation of flights on New Year’s Day.
INQUIRER.net has sought the PNP’s comments regarding the criticisms on the request for courtesy resignations but has not issued any response.
READ: Call for PNP execs to resign over drug links a ‘distraction’ — Gabriela
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