war on drugs

Remulla: DOJ, NBI dealing with improper ‘autopsy’ of Kian delos Santos

Jairo Bolledo

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Remulla: DOJ, NBI dealing with improper ‘autopsy’ of Kian delos Santos

DOJ HEAD. Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla attends the adoption of duties, powers and general jurisdiction of the Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights on August 17, 2022.

Angie de Silva/Rappler

But when asked if the report will be submitted to the ICC, the DOJ chief reiterates his position against the court

MANILA, Philippines – A day after the revelation about the improper “autopsy” of Kian delos Santos, Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Jesus Crispin “Boying” Remulla said on Friday, February 3, that he and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) are already working on the matter.

“Yes, I’m working on that already. There’s a turnover of documents to me and the NBI is working on these cases. We’re just doing the procedure for the victim’s families. [They] will come forward to the NBI and to have dialogue with them for their testimonies to be heard,” the DOJ chief said, when asked about his reaction to the new findings shared by forensic pathologist Dr. Raquel Fortun.

After reexamining Kian’s body almost six years after the 17-year-old boy was killed by cops, Fortun revealed two new important findings. According to her, Kian’s body was not properly examined by the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Public Attorney’s Office.

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‘Autop-silip’: New findings cast doubt on Kian delos Santos’ earlier autopsies

Fortun said she doesn’t believe the agencies actually autopsied Kian’s body because the PNP only did a superficial cut. She also revealed on Thursday that she recovered a bullet around Kian’s neck area, which entered through the boy’s back when he was killed by the cops.

No cooperation with the ICC

Meanwhile, when asked if the report will be submitted to the International Criminal Court (ICC), the DOJ chief reiterated his opposition.

“We’re not members of the ICC. We can turn over some documents to the Solicitor General but we’re not members of the ICC and there is no procedure by which the ICC can operate here in spite of their claim. There is no agreed procedure because we are not members anymore,” Remulla said.

But human rights and international law experts have said that a provision in the Rome Statute clearly says that “withdrawals from the Statute shall not affect the duty to cooperate” and that the ICC retains jurisdiction over alleged crimes that occurred when the Philippines was still a member-state – as is the case in the drug war killings which happened before the country’s withdrawal of membership.

In a statement, the PNP said they acknowledged Fortun’s findings, but reiterated that the country’s justice system is “robust, efficient, and effectively functional.” The national police even mentioned the conviction of cops in Kian’s case.

“Clearly evident to this was the conviction of all the accused for murder in a judgement rendered by a competent court Presided by Judge ROLDOLFO AZUCENA JR, RTC Branch 125, Caloocan City in relation to the death of Kian Delos Santos [on] August 16, 2017,” the PNP said.

But in its decision to grant the ICC Prosecutor’s request to resume investigations into the drug war killings, the pre-trial chamber report “concluded that the various domestic initiatives and proceedings, assessed collectively, do not amount to tangible, concrete and progressive investigative steps in a way that would sufficiently mirror the Court’s investigation.”

In other words, government has not done enough.

Remulla: DOJ, NBI dealing with improper ‘autopsy’ of Kian delos Santos

In response to the ICC decision, government officials, including Duterte himself, claimed that the justice system in the country is working.

Kian was killed during Duterte’s time – and although the cops who killed him have been convicted by the court, it is the only known murder conviction among high profile drug war cases. The closest one involves Carl Angelo Arnaiz and Reynaldo “Kulot” de Guzman – the only conviction of a cop in 2022 for torture and planting of evidence.

The murder trial for the deaths of Arnaiz and De Guzman is still ongoing, almost six years since they were brutally killed. The ICC has repeatedly said it is not satisfied with the Philippine government’s supposed intervention in the killings. – Rappler.com

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Jairo Bolledo

Jairo Bolledo is a multimedia reporter at Rappler covering justice, police, and crime.