DOJ to release some info on 'war on drugs' cases, review findings

Kristine Joy Patag - Philstar.com
DOJ to release some info on 'war on drugs' cases, review findings
This file photo taken on November 16, 2016 shows police gathered over the body of a suspect killed during an anti-drug operation at an informal settlers' area near a port in Manila.
AFP / Ted Aljibe

MANILA, Philippines — Following mounting pressure to release its findings, the Department of Justice said it will make information from 52 administrative cases filed against cops and that it reviewed public.

The DOJ said that its publication of data is "part of the department’s recognition of the importance of transparency in its review process—balanced with the considerations of respecting due process as the [National Bureau of Investigation’s] investigation and case build-up begins."

Information that will be released will include:

  • Docket numbers
  • Names of deceased suspect/s
  • Places and dates of the incidents
  • DOJ review panel’s summary observations

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra in a separate message to reporters said this will be contained in a 20-page matrix that will be released on Wednesday.

He added: "The President [Rodrigo Duterte] has expressly directed the DOJ and the PNP to review the conduct of the war on drugs, and has publicly stated that all those who acted 'beyond bounds' should be held accountable for any unlawful acts or omissions. That is a clear signal that transparency in the drug war review will be observed."

The DOJ said they are releasing data from the review to inform the families and loved ones of suspects killed in anti-drug operations of the circumstances surrounding the incidents.  The review includes determining possible criminal liabilities by police officers involved in the 'war on drugs.'

The data release is also to invite witnesses or persons with first-hand information to come forward and give the NBI their statements to help resolve the cases, the department added.

ICC probe

Duterte’s bloody “war on drugs” is under investigation by the International Criminal Court. The president and his men are accused of committing crimes against humanity in its "Oplan Tokhang" operations, where thousands of Filipinos have been acknowledged to have been killed.

The government has maintained that those who were killed had resisted arrest but the DOJ-led review has raised questions on the "nanlaban" narrative used by the police.

Human rights groups and advocates are also pressing the United Nations Human Rights Council to launch a full, on-the-ground investigation into the Philippines.

In June 2020, Guevarra told the UNHRC that the Philippine government is conducted a review of 'war on drugs' cases that resulted in deaths.

Two reports so far were submitted to Duterte. The first covered operations that resulted in deaths in Central Luzon and Southern Tagalog regions, and in major cities. The second reviewed 52 administrative cases against cops in deadly “drug war” operations.

The DOJ has since referred to NBI records of 52 cases, involving more than 150 police officers, for case build-up.

Guevarra said in its initial report that the DOJ found that police failed to follow protocols in many anti-drug operations, but findings of the second report remain confidential, as Guevarra insisted on clearances from the president and the PNP leadership too.

Speaking before the UN General Assembly during its 76th session in September, Duterte reiterated his order to review “war on drugs” operations.

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