Criminal charges may be filed vs 153 policemen in deaths during drug war

Justice Secretary Menardo I. Guevarra

Criminal charges, not only administrative offenses, may be filed against 153 policemen involved in 52 cases of deaths which resulted in illegal drugs operations, Justice Secretary Menardo I. Guevarra said on Sunday, Oct. 3.

Thus, Guevarra said, the Department of Justice (DOJ) informed the Philippine National Police (PNP) that “these cases will be endorsed to the NBI (National Bureau of Investigation) for case build-up and filing of criminal complaints if warranted by the evidence.”

The DOJ will meet with the NBI on Tuesday, Oct. 5, to discuss the case build-up.

Guevarra said the DOJ met with the PNP last Friday, Oct. 1, and discussed the reports on the findings of the DOJ panel that reviewed the records on 52 cases involving deaths in police operations.

He said the move of the DOJ to refer the results of the review to the NBI for case build-up was also discussed during the meeting which was held in line with President Duterte’s instruction to the PNP and the DOJ in his message to the United Nations General Assembly.

The records of the 52 cases involving deaths were submitted to the DOJ for review by the PNP’s Internal Affairs Service (IAS) last June. Thereafter, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) also submit over 100 records of similar cases.

The PNP-IAS has investigated around 6,000 anti-illegal drugs operations that resulted in deaths.

Guevarra said “if the NBI will deem that the PNP-IAS findings are enough, they may file the complaints directly, but if the NBI thinks that more evidence will be needed, they will investigate further and build up the case.”

He said “the NBI and the PNP agreed to coordinate with each other in this endeavor.”

Also, Guevarra said that during the DOJ’s meeting with the PNP last Oct. 1, an agreement was reached that “the PNP and the DOJ, through the NBI, will institutionalize cooperation in investigating similar instances in the future, so that both administrative and criminal liabilities, if any, are determined simultaneously.”

“The PNP and the DOJ are one in the belief that the war against drugs could be won without the use of excessive force and unnecessary loss of lives,” Guevarra said.

Aside from the 52 cases, Guevarra said “the DOJ will also focus its attention on the nearly 100 cases across the country which are either pending preliminary investigation or court trial, involving law enforcement agents charged with or accused of violating the law in connection with the war on drugs.”