Government may release initial 'drug war' review report next week
File photo shows people lighting candles to protest drug war killings.
The STAR/Miguel de Guzman, File

Government may release initial 'drug war' review report next week

Kristine Joy Patag (Philstar.com) - December 11, 2020 - 10:51am

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Justice-led review panel's initial report on "drug war" operations that resulted in deaths may be released next week, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said Friday.

Guevarra himself told the United Nations Human Rights Council last June 30 that the Philippines’ review panel will release its report in November, but the DOJ chief admitted last month they will miss the timeline they set due to recent calamities.

Guevarra said Friday that the initial report may be released next week. The report will contain “initial findings in a couple of provinces with highest incidence of police operations resulting in deaths, particularly in Bulacan and Pampanga,” he added.

While a full report will later be released, Guevarra admitted they have yet to determine a timeline for this.

“Our movements are severely hampered by this pandemic. This should have been done by now,” he added, partly in Filipino..

The "drug war" review panel figured significantly in the UNHRC’s resolution released in October that pushed for capacity building to improve the human rights situation in the Philippines, but stopped short in launching an independent, on-the-ground investigation, which rights groups have been calling for.

The EcuVoice delegation to the rights body however said that the review panel may just be "a tricky assuagement to appease the cries for justice of the victims," as they asserted that "domestic remedies in the Philippines are by and large ineffective, protracted, ponderous, skewed and even frustrating to the victims."

Rights groups have flagged the “drug war” panel review as an attempt at damage control to avoid international scrutiny and investigation. 

RELATED: EJKs and abuse just a narrative by critics, Palace rights panel assures copsPalace official urged to talk to 'drug war' victims' kin before dismissing rights concerns

Human Rights Summit

The justice department is juggling several high-profile tasks under the Duterte adminsitration.

The president in late October ordered the DOJ to conduct an investigation into the “entire government.” The directive will remain effective until the end of President Rodrigo Duterte's presidency in June 2022.

The Administrative Order 35 Task Force conducting investigations into politically-related killings is also under the DOJ. The panel is conducting a probe into the murder of peasant leader Randall Echanis and rights worker Zara Alvarez this year.

The DOJ this week held a three-day Human Rights Summit, as one of the projects in a joint program on technical cooperation between the Philippine government and the United Nations pursuant to the latest resolution adopted by the UN Human Rights Council. 

The International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines has dismissed the summit as hypocritical, a view shared by local rights groups.

"We find it ironic that arrests and rights violations continue in the same week that Philippine government launches a human rights summit. It is clear that this platform is nothing but an extravagant deodorizer aimed at exonerating the state-sanctioned perpetrators from their crimes," ICHRP chairperson Peter Murphy said in a release on Thursday, International Human Rights Day.

RELATED: Arrests mar commemoration of International Human Rights Day

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