PDEA open to any drug war probe except that of ICC

Published June 20, 2021, 11:00 AM

by Chito Chavez

The chief of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) said on Sunday, June 20, that the agency is amenable to any probe pertaining to the country’s enforcement of the anti-illegal drug campaign amid insinuations that it was tainted with extra-judicial killings and other forms of human rights violations.

But, PDEA Director-General Wilkins Villanueva insisted that the agency will strictly adhere to President Duterte’s orders on its non-participation into a International Criminal Court’s (ICC)-led probe on drug war killings.

Retired ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda had recently requested the international tribunal to launch a full investigation into the Philippines’ bloody drug war.

“Unang-una, gusto ko iparating sa lahat na ang PDEA is open sa lahat ng investigation as far as ‘yung namatay during anti-drug ops na conducted ng PDEA. However, nagsalita na ang Pangulo natin. Ang sabi niya kasi ‘di papayagan na magkaroon ng investigation. Talagang nakikita ko sa kanya na mayroon siyang pinaghuhugutan na rason, (First and foremost, I would like to inform everybody that PDEA is open to all investigations on the deaths that occurred during PDEA’s anti-drug operation. However, the President has spoken. He said that he will not allow any investigation. I can see that he has a reason for this),’’ Villanueva said in an interview over GMA News.

In her preliminary investigation, Bensouda said there is reasonable basis to believe that crimes against humanity were committed in the Duterte administration’s anti-drug operations.

However, Villanueva questioned the claim and has sought for details of the killings being investigated by Bensouda.

‘’Kahit sabihin na nating crimes against humanity, sabihin na natin EJK (extrajudicial killings). Ano ang detail nu’n? (Even if we say it was crimes against humanity, EJK, what are the details on that?),’’ he added.

The PDEA chief noted that PDEA has been in touch with the Department of Justice (DOJ) panel that is reviewing the illegal drug campaign adding that the agency has shared information on its drug war with the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) as requested.

He also reported that only 2.11 percent of more than 289,000 arrested drug dealers were killed from July 2016 to April 30, 2021.

Villanueva cited that the government’s anti-drug campaign cleared 21,891 out of 42,045 villages in the country nationwide. (Chito A. Chavez)