The Department of Justice’s (DOJ) initial report on the 52 cases of deaths in the government’s anti-drug campaign showed “many lapses” in the operations, Vice President Leni Robredo said on Sunday, Oct. 24.
As such, the opposition leader called for a thorough investigation into thousands more killings in relation to the Duterte administration’s bloody war on drugs.
During her weekly radio show over dzXL, Robredo said the DOJ report only “confirmed” what the public has known all along—that there were lapses in the police operations and protocols leading to the deaths of the victims.
“So, mabuti na ginagawa ito ng DOJ pero alam natin na libo-libo ‘yung naging biktima. Sana man lang mabigyan ng katarungan iyong mga namatay (The DOJ is doing a good thing but we know that thousands have been victimized. Hopefully, those who died will be given justice),” Robredo, who is running for president in 2022, said.
The Vice President attended the turnover of urns of the remains of the victims of extrajudicial killings (EJKs) last week after the five-year lease on their graves lapsed.
It was only through the efforts of the Society of the Divine Word that the remains were cremated and put into urns to be turned over to their families.
Robredo said one of the spouses of the victims during the turnover told her that the police asked them to sign a report saying that the victim died of pneumonia.
“Marami talagang mga ginawa na hindi naaayon sa batas (A lot of things were done that weren’t based on the rule of law),” she lamented, adding that the only consolation the victims’ families can have is to make sure that those who perpetrated the killings will face the law.
Last week, the Justice department released its initial findings on 52 cases of deaths in the government’s bloody anti-narcotics drive. The 20-page document covers killings from July 2016 to Sept. 2020.
The panel found that many of the victims tested negative for gunpowder nitrates and latent print, which indicates that they didn’t hold or use a firearm against the law enforcers. This is contrary to claims by the police that they acted in self-defense after the alleged suspects fired at them.
Malacañang has said that the report proves that President Duterte has no responsibility for the alleged abuses and lapses in the government’s campaign against drugs and that the justice system in the country is working.
The review came at a time when the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) pre-trial chamber formally authorized an investigation into the EJK cases that happened from July 2016 to March 2019, when Duterte’s order to withdraw from the ICC was formalized.
Despite the investigation into the 52 cases, human rights advocates, led by senatorial aspirant and lawyer Chel Diokno, said this was a measly percentage of the thousands killed under the administration’s drug war.
Official figures said more than 8,000 have been killed but the ICC estimated it to be between 12,000 and 30,000.