DOJ: Four of 52 deadly PNP 'drug war' cases reviewed now in courts

Kristine Joy Patag - Philstar.com
DOJ: Four of 52 deadly PNP  'drug war' cases reviewed now in courts
This photo shows a memorial with the names of the victims of extra-judicial killings.
Karapatan, Release

MANILA, Philippines — Four of the 52 Philippine National Police "war on drugs" cases reviewed by the Department of Justice are now pending before trial courts, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said.

In a message to reporters on Tuesday, Guevarra said cases have been filed before trial courts over the following incidents:

  • Victim former University of the Philippines student Carl Angelo Arnaiz (2017): Pending before Navotas trial court
  • Victims Richard Santillan, who was aide of lawyer Glenn Chong, and his companion Gessamyn Casing (2018): Pending before Cainta trial court
  • Victims Anwar Sawadjaan, Noel Bacalzo and Angelo Hofer (2016) : Pending before Zamboanga del Norte trial court
  • Victim Sharif Amatonding (2016): Pending before San Pedro, Laguna trial court

Guevarra did not name the police officers facing charges over the said cases or the dates when the cases were filed. The matrix released by the DOJ in October also did not name the police officers involved in the "war on drugs" operations that resulted in deaths.

Last year, the department released information on the 52 cases from the PNP's Internal Affairs Services. The files, part of the DOJ-led review of cases, cover more than 150 police officers who were found to have direct liability in the deadly anti-narcotics operations.

Case build-up

The DOJ has since transferred the case files to the National Bureau of Investigation for case build-up and verification of whether complaints or charges have been filed against the police officers.

Guevarra said that the NBI’s initial report dated January 4 said that "most of the 52 cases turned over by the [PNP IAS] are still under evaluation by the regional offices of the NBI or are presently subject of case build-up."

He added that the bureau will submit monthly progress reports on the matter but he did not impose a deadline for the NBI to finish the review, citing the circumstances of offices that vary from region to region.

"I have already directed the NBI to speed up its evaluation. I have also personally discussed the matter with PNP chief Dionardo Carlos last week to ensure the cooperation of the PNP regional offices, particularly on access to original case records in the possession of these offices," the DOJ chief also said.

Guevarra first announced the DOJ-led panel review of deadly "war on drugs" operations before the United Nations Human Rights Council on June 30, 2020.

The panel has since drafted two reports, submitted to President Rodrigo Duterte. The first report, which was not made public, covers findings on more than 300 operations in a couple of provinces with the highest incidence of police operations resulting in deaths, particularly in Bulacan and Pampanga. The second report covered the 52 cases from the PNP IAS.

The International Criminal Court is conducting an investigation into the alleged crimes against humanity of President Rodrigo Duterte and his men over the bloody "war on drugs."

In November 2021, ICC Prosecutor Karim Khan said his office will temporarily suspend the investigation as they assess the deferral request submitted by the Philippine government.

Khan however said the ICC’s Office of the Prosecutor will continue its analysis on information it has on hand and it may also look into any new information they may receive from third parties.

Human rights groups, and "war on drugs" victims and their lawyers pressed the ICC to continue its probe as they asserted that there is no genuine domestic probe into the bloody "war on drugs."

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