4 of 52 drug war killing cases now in courts

Published January 25, 2022, 8:34 AM

by Jeffrey Damicog

Justice Secretary Menardo I. Guevarra

Four of the 52 cases of killings during illegal drugs operations conducted by the police since 2016 are now before the trial courts, Justice Secretary Menardo I. Guevarra said today, Jan. 25.

Two of the cases filed in court involved the 2017 killing of 19-year-old former University of the Philippines (UP) student Carl Angelo Arnaiz which is now with the regional trial court (RTC) of Navotas City and the 2018 killings of Richard Santillan, the security aide of former Biliran Rep. Glenn Chong, and the victim’s companion Gessamyn Casing which are with the Cainta RTC, Guevarra said.

The two other cases are the 2016 killings of alleged drug couriers Anwar Sawajaan, Noel Bacalzo and Angelo Hofer which are with the RTC of Zamboanga del Norte; and the 2016 death of Sharif Amatonding which is pending with the RTC of San Pedro, Laguna, he said.

The identities of those charged were not immediately known as the copies of the criminal charges filed before the courts were not available.

“Most of the 52 cases turned over by the Philippine National Police-Internal Affairs Service (PNP-IAS) are still under evaluation by the regional offices of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) or are presently subject of case build-up,” he also said.

A Department of Justice (DOJ) panel conducted a review of the 52 cases which were submitted in June 2021 by the PNP-IAS which found wrongdoings on the part of the 154 policemen who participated in the illegal drugs operations.

Last October, Guevarra ordered the NBI to conduct a probe and to do case buildup against 154 policemen involved.

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

As part of its commitment before the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), a DOJ-led review panel has been reviewing since 2020 cases involving killings during anti-illegal drugs operations that have taken place since 2016 under the administration of President Duterte.