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CHR vows to monitor PNP’s return to drug war

Speaking on the sidelines of a human rights forum in Taguig City yesterday, CHR chairman Chito Gascon reiterated their call for the government to ensure the protection of human rights of all Filipinos. Commission on Human Rights Facebook/File

MANILA, Philippines — The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) has vowed to closely monitor the Philippine National Police (PNP) once the latter retakes the lead in implementing the government’s campaign against illegal drugs.

Speaking on the sidelines of a human rights forum in Taguig City yesterday, CHR chairman Chito Gascon reiterated their call for the government to ensure the protection of human rights of all Filipinos.

Asked about the decision of President Duterte to restore the PNP’s lead role in the war on drugs, Gascon said they recognize his prerogative to designate the agency he considers most capable of enforcing the law.

But he stressed this should be done in compliance with the Constitution and established human rights standards.

“We in the CHR will not tell him (Duterte) what he should or should not do, but we will inform him and members of his administration when we see that they transgress human rights standards which he is also obliged to uphold and defend,” Gascon said.

“Whether it is the police or any other law enforcement agency that will pursue these efforts of the war on drugs of the administration, we will just continue to do our part as we expect them to do their part in terms of assisting us in ensuring that the public is reassure that no cases of human rights violations are occurring,” he added.

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Malacañang on Thursday said Duterte was not satisfied with the way PDEA handled the anti-drug campaign. It was a task the President had bestowed on PDEA in the wake of alleged summary execution in Caloocan City last month of teenagers linked to drugs.

In a separate statement, CHR – through spokesperson Jacquelin de Guia – said it wants the PNP to show the results of the internal cleansing that it promised to undertake after being removed from the anti-drug campaign.

Lawmakers warned the return of the PNP in the campaign against illegal drugs might lead to another wave of summary killings.

Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III said the President has his own strategy in dealing with illegal drugs.

“I just remind all concerned and all involved to conduct the all-out war against drugs in accordance with law,” he said.

Akbayan party-list Rep. Tom Villarin said the PNP’s return to the war on drugs would be “a reign of error and terror.”

“Instead of a joyous Christmas, there will be mourning and wailing among the poor who are the targets of the drug war,” he said.

Sen. Panfilo Lacson said police officials have become more conscious, if not wary of possible dire consequences of abuses and other transgressions.

Accountability

Gascon said they are also concerned over the lack of accountability in the conduct of the war on drugs.

“The killings are a fact, people are dying. We are concerned that there are no major results from investigations that have been conducted,” he said.

He lamented the failure of the PNP to fulfill its promise to cooperate with the CHR in investigating the killings.

“We have formally asked the police to give us all the case folders of all cases of deaths arising from the war on drugs, but up to this day they have not turned over any of these case folders to the commission even though we are constitutionally mandated to monitor and investigate possible cases of violations,” Gascon said.

Senior Supt. Jemar Modequillo said Caloocan City policemen have learned their lessons from the killing of Kian Delos Santos and Karl Arnaiz.

Modequillo welcomed Duterte’s pronouncement to restore the PNP’s lead role in the anti-illegal drugs campaign.

“Yes, we are actually ready with regard to that,” Modequillo said.

He belied criticisms that the Caloocan City police would be waging another “bloody” war on drugs saying policemen were only forced to fight back in self-defense. –Jess Diaz, Paolo Romero, Marc Jayson Cayabyab

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