Justice Secretary Menardo I. Guevarra on Thursday, Feb. 25, assured that criminal charges will be filed against erring policemen who were involved in illegal drug operations that resulted in deaths of thousands of suspects.
Guevarra said he has been assured by the Philippine National Police (PNP) that it will take action on the recommendations submitted to it and to President Duterte by the inter-agency panel that investigated the killings.
If the PNP will not file the charges, other panel members – aside from the Department of Justice (DOJ) – can file the complaints, he said.
Also, Guevarra said the panel “also intends to reach out to the families of the victims so that they themselves could act as the complainants.”
It was not known immediately how many of the more than 5,600 cases of deaths involved in illegal drugs operations have been reviewed by the panel, and how many of those reviewed resulted in the findings of criminal culpability on the part of the policemen.
In June 30 last year, Guevarra told the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) that the Philippine government has formed the DOJ-led inter-agency panel to conduct “a judicious review of the 5,655 anti-illegal drug operations where deaths occurred.”
In an online meeting with UNHRC last Wednesday, Feb. 24, Guevarra said may irregularities by law enforcement agents have been discovered in their various anti-illegal drugs operations.
In his report, Guevarra said “in more than half of the records reviewed, the law enforcement agents involved failed to follow standard protocols pertaining to coordination with other agencies and the processing of the crime scene.”
“Our initial and preliminary findings confirm that in many of these cases, law enforcement agents asserted that the subject of anti-drugs operations resisted arrest or attempted to draw a weapon and fight back,” he said.
“Yet, no full examination of the weapon recovered was conducted. No verification of its ownership was undertaken. No request for ballistic examination or paraffin test was pursued until its completion,” he stressed.