PNP to create top-level review team to prosecute cops who 'play God' in drug war

Published October 4, 2021, 10:47 AM

by Aaron Recuenco 

The Philippine National Police (PNP) will create a top-level review team that will coordinate with the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) in the case build-up and filing of criminal cases against against policemen who committed abuses and human rights violations in the conduct of the illegal drugs operations since the start of the Duterte administration.

PNP chief Gen. Guillermo Lorenzo Eleazar said the move is in line with the continuing coordination meeting between the PNP and the Department of Justice in the investigation of all drug war cases, particularly those which resulted in the deaths of drug suspects under the infamous ‘nanlaban’ (suspects tried to shoot it out with cops) narrative.

“Sa nakalipas na limang taon, naging kakambal na ng aming maigting na kampanya laban sa iligal na droga ang mga pagdududa at alegasyon sa halos lahat ng aming matagumpay na operasyon na nag-resulta sa pagsasantabi ng aming mga hirap at sakripisyo laban sa mga sindikato ng iligal na droga (In the past five years, our aggressive campaign illegal drugs have always been associated with doubts and allegations which resulted in our successful operations against drugs syndicates being sidelined),” said Eleazar.

“As Chief of the Philippine National Police, I cannot allow and I cannot ignore all of these to persist because what is at stake here, more than credibility that we want to protect, is the honor and dignity of the police organization especially in the eyes of the young and future generations of Filipinos,” he added.

On Sunday, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra disclosed that there are 52 cases involving 154 policemen that would be worked on by the PNP and the NBI for case build-up. The cases involve human rights abuses and extra-judicial killings in the conduct of drug war.

“The DOJ thus informed the PNP that these cases will be endorsed to the NBI for case build-up and filing of criminal complaints if warranted by the evidence. The NBI and the PNP agreed to coordinate with each other in this endeavor,” Guevarra was quoted saying.


Eleazar, for his part, said that the allegations of human rights abuses and extra-judicial killings became their motivation to submit cases which they initially assessed to have violated Police Operational Procedures to the DOJ for review.

Based on the latest data, more than 6,000 people died in the police operations since July 2016–all of them died after they tried to fight it out with anti-narcotics operatives of the PNP.

The public, however, was not convinced especially that there have been repeated and persistent claims of relatives and witnesses that the policemen killed the suspects in cold-blood and planted evidence to make it appear that there was a shootout.

“This serves as our motivation here in the PNP to work closely with the Department of Justice to conduct review of all drug-related operations in the interest of transparency and accountability. After all, we are bound by the strict ethical rules, legal provisions and high moral standards in everything we do as public servants,” said Eleazar.

“As part of our commitment to fully cooperate with the DOJ, I have already ordered the creation of a top-level PNP Coordinating Group that will work closely with the National Bureau of Investigation in the conduct of case build-up and filing of criminal complaints based on the evidence that would be gathered. The composition of the PNP Coordinating Team shall be announced in the soonest possible time,” he added.

Pressure to come clean?

Last month, the International Criminal Court (ICC) has authorized a full investigation into the bloody drug war of the Duterte administration based on the complaints filed by the relatives of the victims who died in the illegal drugs campaign.

In his speech also last month before the United Nations General Assembly, Duterte, who has barely eight months before he steps down as President, promised accountability against those who went beyond the bounds of the law in the conduct of his drug war.

But as early as May, Eleazar has started working closely with the DOJ to review questonable police operations in the last five years amid persistent allegations which he said has already sidelined the good accomplishments of the PNP in the campaign against illegal drugs.

This led to the turnover of 57 drug war documents to the DOJ. Of the 57, only 52 cases were initially found to have some problems with regard to Police Operational Procedure.

Eleazar, who promised to regain the trust and confidence of the people to the PNP during his assumption speech, said more cases will be subjected to review as agreed by the DOJ and the PNP.