DOJ seeks PNP assistance in probe, prosecution of killings in illegal drugs operations since 2016

Published January 25, 2022, 2:04 PM

by Jeffrey Damicog

Department of Justice

The Department of Justice (DOJ) has sought the cooperation of the Philippine National Police (PNP) in the investigation and prosecution of policemen involved in killings during illegal drugs operations conducted since 2016.

Of the 52 cases of killings submitted to the DOJ for review and later forwarded to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) in October 2021 for case buildup, only four of them have been filed before the trial courts.

Justice Secretary Menardo I. Guevarra said he has discussed the issue with PNP Chief Lt. Gen. Dionardo B. Carlos “to ensure the cooperation of the PNP regional offices, particularly on access to original case records in the possession of these offices.”

Also, Guevarra said, he has “directed the NBI to speed up its evaluation” of the cases involving deaths in government’s drug war.

He pointed out that the PNP and NBI signed on Nov. 3, 2021 a memorandum of agreement (MOA) that allows them to “jointly evaluate the government’s anti-illegal drug operations, and, where necessary, determine possible criminal liability on the part of the police officers involved in these operations.”

“Under the MOA between the NBI and the PNP, each side is supposed to designate focal persons for purposes of coordination,” he said.

“We understand that a composite team will comprise the PNP side; i.e., units other than the IAS (Internal Affairs Service) will be involved,” he added.

On speeding up the NBI case buildup and probe, Guevarra said: “It is hard to give a uniform deadline because circumstances differ from region to region, but the NBI is required to submit monthly progress reports to the DOJ.”

On the 52 cases submitted to the DOJ for review, the PNP-IAS has found liability on the part of 154 policemen who participated in the illegal drugs operations.

The four cases already filed before the courts were those involving 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.