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Philippines to UNHRC: Post-drug operation reports submitted

Pia Lee-Brago - The Philippine Star
Philippines to UNHRC: Post-drug operation reports submitted
Ambassador Evan Garcia, Philippine permanent representative to the UN, highlighted the country’s tradition of human rights engagement, citing the steady progress in the UN Joint Program on Human Rights and the continuation of the European Union Governance in Justice program into the second phase.
STAR / Boy Santos, file

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines has informed the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) that authorities are complying with a policy requiring the submission of post-operation reports of all drug-related operations and mandatory use of body cameras in police operations.

Ambassador Evan Garcia, Philippine permanent representative to the UN, highlighted the country’s tradition of human rights engagement, citing the steady progress in the UN Joint Program on Human Rights and the continuation of the European Union Governance in Justice program into the second phase.

Garcia told the UNHRC that the work of the review panel on cases of deaths in anti-illegal drug operations is in full swing.

He said Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra vowed to endorse cases and file criminal complaints if warranted by evidence.

The Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) shared a total of 159 case files.

“As the panel reviews cases, the DOJ is closely monitoring the preliminary investigation and prosecution of 87 criminal cases lodged against over a hundred law enforcement personnel for possible wrongful conduct related to or arising from anti-illegal drug operations,” Garcia said, referring to the Department of Justice.

“Our authorities are further strengthening disciplinary and accountability mechanisms with human rights information system for recording and monitoring violations and compliances by the police nationwide,” he added.

Since 2016, Garcia said the PNP’s independent review unit conducted 10,437 investigations for all cases that resulted in death or injuries.

Sanctions were meted out against 18,664 police personnel for various offenses, with 5,151 dismissed from the service.

In September 2021, seven policemen were charged by the DOJ with unlawful detention and murder of six people in a fabricated operation early this year.

UNHRC Commissioner Michelle Bachelet cited the inclusive process in which the three-year UN Joint Program was developed, according to the Philippine Mission to the UN.

The Mission said Bachelet acknowledged institutional and policy changes to prevent human rights violations, noting the court rulings on the issuance of search warrants and the mandatory use of body cameras and alternative recording devices in police operations.

Garcia acknowledged the UN Joint Program’s support in bolstering the government’s reform initiatives for human rights, accountability and rule of law.

The Mission said the UNHRC member-states acknowledged and expressed support for constructive and inclusive engagement on human rights in the Philippines.

Meanwhile, the DOJ is expected to release today a 20-page report of its review panel on the 52 anti-illegal drug operations conducted by the police that resulted in death.

The DOJ said the release of the report intends not only to show transparency in the conduct of the review, but also to inform the families of the deceased suspects of the actions taken by the government.

The DOJ said it also wants to encourage other witnesses to cooperate with the National Bureau of Investigation’s (NBI) in probing these incidents.

Among the details that would be released are the docket numbers, names of deceased suspect/s, places and dates of the incidents and the DOJ review panel’s summary of observation.

The DOJ panel recently concluded its review of the 52 anti-drug war operations that were conducted in line with President Duterte’s anti-illegal drug war campaign.

The information were provided by the PNP-Internal Affairs Service.

Aside from the PNP operations, the review panel has started studying 107 anti-illegal drugs operations conducted by the PDEA.

Rule of law

The Duterte government will exert “greater efforts” to uphold and promote the rule of law, Malacañang said yesterday.

The Philippines ranked 102nd out of 139 countries in the latest World Justice Project’s (WJP) Rule of Law Index, down from 91st place in 2020.

The country also ranked 13th out of 15 countries in East Asia and the Asia-Pacific, only ahead of Myanmar and Cambodia.

“We stand by what Justice Secretary Guevarra said that we are going to exert greater efforts to uphold and promote the rule of law in the country,” presidential spokesman Harry Roque said yesterday.

He said the government is addressing human rights violations in the country, including alleged abuses in the conduct of its anti-illegal drug campaign.

Roque reiterated Guevarra’s remark that the crime rate in the country has been on a downtrend in recent years, except for a few sensational cases. – Evelyn Macairan, Helen Flores

DRUG OPERATION UNHRC
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