Police reports in EJKs included recommendations to 'reward' officers — CHR

Police reports in EJKs included recommendations to 'reward' officers â CHR
The mother views the coffin of her three-year-old baby Kateleen Myca Ulpina, killed during a sting operation conducted by the police, is seen during her wake in Rodriguez, Rizal, east of Manila on July 5, 2019.
AFP / Noel Celis

MANILA, Philippines — Police reports on anti-illegal drug operations that resulted in deaths sought to reward the cops involved and even absolve them from liability, the Commission on Human Rights disclosed on Tuesday.

This came as it disclosed Tuesday the findings of its earlier analysis of incidents of killings and violence documented since the said campaign started in 2016 until February 2020.

The CHR in a statement sent to media Tuesday said it observed in 77 out of 90 police reports complete with results of internal investigation findings that police also made recommendations that police operatives involved in the said incidents "are either to be awarded, rewarded, or recognized."

Some reports, while no mention of commendation, upheld the legitimacy of operations and, in a few reports, "recommended that participating operatives be absolved from criminal or administrative liability."

'Nanlaban' questioned anew

The CHR questioned a number of discrepancies in police claims on anti-illegal drug operations as it noted what it called the "widespread nature of killings" linked to the government's so-called war on drugs.

From the sample 579 cases found in Metro Manila, Central Luzon, and Calabarzon, which registered the highest numbers of killings allegedly linked to the government's anti-drug campaign:

  • 870 were recorded as victims, at least 71 of whom are women, and at least 24 were minors
  • 451 incidents of killings were allegedly attributed to police operations
  • 104 were said to be committed by unidentified perpetrators
  • 24 incidents have no sufficient information as to the circumstances.

The 451 cases of killings allegedly linked to police operations tallied 705 victims and, out of this number, the police claims 466 individuals initiated aggression or resisted arrest or the so-called 'nanlaban' cases.

"However, despite police protocols prescribing necessary and reasonable force in subduing resistance by an aggressor, only two (2) percent or 11 individuals survived the alleged 'nanlaban' incidents," the CHR said. 

"Records of at least 87 victims contained information on the wounds or injuries found—mostly multiple gunshot wounds on different parts of the body, usually the head, chest, trunk and abdomen. Blunt force and injury and lacerations were also found on some of the victims."

The CHR, however, admitted that the status and content of the investigation records and reports available to CHR, as well as the recurring obstacles in accessing police records pertaining to cases in question, impacted the extent of the study.

'Intent to kill' vs self-defense

The CHR also noted other patterns of discrepancies based on eyewitness accounts during drug operations by law enforcers, including:

  • that the alleged operations might have not actually been conducted;
  • that alleged "nanlaban" victims could not have initiated a shootout;
  • that some victims were said to be already under police custody when they were killed;
  • that allegedly unjustified violence was prevalent in the conduct of said operations;
  • that planting of evidence was observed by witnesses in some incidents;
  • that some victims killed might not have been the intended target of the operations.

The CHR pointed out that the Supreme Court, in a decision on the plea of the self-defense of law enforcement, ruled that the location of a deceased aggressor's gunshot wounds may suggest an intent to kill and not just to defend oneself.

Official police data acknowledges some 6,100 killings that resulted from anti-drug operations. Rights groups both here and abroad say that the actual death toll may be as high as 30,000. 


The commission in its report also urged the government to adopt the UN Minnesota Protocol in investigating potentially unlawful deaths in a prompt, effective and thorough, independent, impartial, and transparent manner.

"CHR stresses that speedy, impartial, and transparent investigations are crucial in delivering justice; thereby, addressing the observed 'persistent impunity and formidable barriers to accessing justice' flagged by the UN Human Rights Office to the Philippine Government," the report read. 

"We also appeal to Congress to enact a bill that defines and punishes extrajudicial killings based on international human rights laws and standards, and for the Supreme Court to develop a body of jurisprudence, adhering to the principle of stare decisis and the Bill of Rights found in the 1987 Constitution, to prevent courts from flip-flopping in their decisions toward the protection of their integrity and independence," the CHR said.

The CHR also reiterated its "willingness to partner with the government in uncovering the truth behind these incidents of killings," saying its disclosure of the report was "in aid of seeking truth and accountability behind deaths allegedly linked to the government's anti-drug campaign."

"We continue to look forward to the realization of the commitment of the government...that CHR, in our capacity as an independent monitoring body, will be involved in the review panel of some 5,655 cases of anti-drug operations where deaths occurred."

"We hope that government uses this opportunity to finally bring cases to courts. With thousands of cases left to be scrutinized, we urge the government to do more in investigating deaths being linked to the so-called drug war. There is a clamor for justice waiting to be answered."





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