war on drugs

PH gov’t misses deadline for drug war review

Lian Buan

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PH gov’t misses deadline for drug war review

Crime scenes after a buy-bust operation in Taguig City on July 28, 2016.

Rappler file photo

(UPDATED) Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra says 'the review panel is drafting the initial report'

The Philippine government missed its November deadline for an initial report on its review into the more than 5,000 deaths in legitimate police anti-drug operations

“We lost a number of working days due to recent calamities, so we may be constrained to submit it in December. Kindly bear with us,” Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra told reporters on Friday, November 27.

Guevarra said “the review panel is drafting the initial report.”

Guevarra had earlier said that to meet the deadline, the panel will rely on “sufficient random sampling,” and will not look at each of the 5,665 deaths in the hands of cops.

The drug war review, which is led by the Department of Justice (DOJ), aims to seal gaps in the investigative and prosecutorial process, and see why so few cases have been filed regarding these deaths.

In an analysis of DOJ and PNP data in January 2019, Rappler found that prosecutorial and investigative systems of both agencies have left thousands of drug war deaths to go unsolved.

The drug war review was opened in June as a commitment to the United Nations Human Rights Council that the government was doing its best to exact accountability for abuses in the drug war. Guevarra said it was also to boost the Philippines’ position that an investigation by the International Criminal Court (ICC) was not needed. (PODCAST: Law of Duterte Land: Can we trust the gov’t panel probing drug war deaths?)

The ICC earlier announced it would determine its next step by 2020. It is conducting a preliminary examination, and will hold a formal investigation if it determines that the Philippine government is unable or unwilling to prosecute these abuses on its own. 

Guevarra said on Friday that the Administrative Order (AO) 35 panel also aims to hold a human rights summit on December 7. The panel looks at extrajudicial killings outside of the drug war, and was also meant to release a finding on patterns by the end of 2020.

The Duterte government had earlier informed the UNHRC of the creation of the two panels, which the council cited as reasons not to go hard on the Philippine government for human rights abuses. The DOJ is at the center of efforts to shield the Duterte government from an international probe. – Rappler.com

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Lian Buan

Lian Buan is a senior investigative reporter, and minder of Rappler's justice, human rights and crime cluster.