35 Philippine doctors to undergo 21-day forensic training

Neil Jayson Servallos - The Philippine Star
35 Philippine doctors to undergo 21-day forensic training
Justice Secretary Crispin Remulla answers the questions of the media regarding the visit of United Nations special rapporteur and forensic science expert Dr. Morris Tidball-Binz in the country on February 7, 2023.
STAR / Ernie Penaredondo

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Justice has reached an agreement with United Nations special rapporteur Morris Tidball-Binz for a 21-day training exercise in forensic pathology for at least 35 Filipino doctors as part of the DOJ’s program to improve capabilities for investigating wrongful deaths in the country.

During a meeting with Tidball-Binz yesterday, Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla laid out gaps in the country’s justice system, particularly in the investigation processes of law enforcement agencies.

Remulla cited the need for law enforcers to ensure that wrongful deaths are accompanied by an autopsy conducted by authorized medical practitioners in the field of forensic pathology.

There are only two forensic pathologists in the country, including Dr. Raquel Fortun, who has been displeased on

numerous occasions by how law enforcement agencies, including the DOJ, have misused her findings in cases where her help was sought.

Tidball-Binz is in the country for a three-day visit, which ends tomorrow, to speak to law enforcement agencies and civil society organizations about his mission.

His visit serves as a benchmarking of sorts for the actual 21-day training exercise, which could be conducted in May or August.

Tidball-Binz, a Chilean physician who specializes in forensics, human rights and humanitarian mission, is in the country as part of the DOJ’s capacity building for the country’s forensic pathologists.

While he is the UN special rapporteur for extrajudicial killings, his stay this week and his subsequent visit for the training exercises would be done in his capacity as a forensic expert.

“We did not discuss (EJK) cases but we tackled certain trends we’re following in the DOJ for investigations we’re conducting and we’re looking forward to when he comes back. By then, we would have prepared a class for 35 medical doctors. Senior prosecutors will also be asked to join this exercise because the capacity building is not only for forensic pathology but also investigative work,” Remulla told reporters.

The DOJ has asked the UN Joint Program to fund the exercises, which will be held in two parts this year.

P31-B drugs seized

Meanwhile, authorities confiscated close to P31 billion worth of illegal drugs last year due to the government’s intensified crackdown, Malacañang said yesterday.

Citing an accomplishment report of the

Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), Presidential Communications Secretary Cheloy Garafil said drugs valued at P30.9 billion were seized while about P27.8 billion worth of controlled precursors and essential chemicals were destroyed in 2022.

Garafil said 53,002 drug suspects were arrested in more than 37,000 anti-narcotics operations conducted by the PDEA. A total of 237 marijuana sites and P738.6 million worth of marijuana plants and derivatives were also destroyed.

She said the PDEA undertook 257,588 preventive education and community involvement activities and established 111 Balay Silangan reformation centers, producing some 2,000 graduates and employing 894 people.

The activities seek to reduce the demand for illegal drugs and create awareness on the negative consequences of drug addiction.

More than 300,000 users in drug-cleared barangays underwent community-based rehabilitation programs, while 67,045 others were given intervention programs, the PDEA report said.

Among the commonly used drugs are methamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu, marijuana and Ecstasy, the PDEA said.

The PDEA said it filed 45,850 cases against drug personalities in 2022.

Out of 25,306 resolved cases last year, 21,112 or 83 percent resulted in convictions while 1,439 cases or six percent were dismissed by the courts, according to PDEA.

More than 6,000 drug suspects were killed in the drug war waged by former president Rodrigo Duterte, a campaign that some groups said had violated human rights and had led to summary executions.

President Marcos previously said he wanted the enforcement of the anti-narcotics campaign to focus on people who would “make a difference” in the drug supply when sent to jail. – Alexis Romero

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