29 EJK cases delisted for lack of witnesses, interest of complainants to pursue charges

Published May 17, 2022, 11:00 AM

by Jeffrey Damicog

Justice Secretary Menardo I. Guevarra (2)

The inter-agency committee (IAC) on extra-judicial killings (EJKs) has delisted 29 cases from its investigations due to lack of witnesses and interest on the part of the complainants to pursue the charges.

Most of the delisted cases were in Regions IV and VII. “Most of these cases reached the investigation stage at the PNP (Philippine National Police), CHR (Commission on Human Rights), and NPS (National Prosecution Service) level only,” Justice Secretary Menardo I. Guevarra said on Tuesday, May 17.

Guevarra — head of the Administrative Order 35 (AO35) Inter-Agency Committee on Extra-Legal Killings, Enforced Disappearances, Torture and Other Grave Violations to the Rights of Life, Liberty and Security of Persons – said the decision to drop the investigation on the 29 cases was reached during the committee’s meeting last May 12.

But Guevarra assured that the investigation of EJKs and enforced disappearances in the other regions “shall continue to be in the active file and the review of unsolved AO 35 cases in other regions is still going on.”

During the AIC meeting, Guevarra also disclosed that a small working group was created “to move the investigation and prosecution of cases of international humanitarian law violations (use of child combatants, use of land mines, etc).”

“The working group will initially focus on IHL (international humanitarian law) cases where the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) has provided records of the incidents,” he explained.

“They will determine how to proceed with the case build-up, particularly getting the sworn statements of witnesses, and sending subpoenas to armed respondents who have no permanent addresses,” he added.

He noted that the IHL cases referred to the working group were “263 incidents supported with records from Regions IV-A, IV-B, V, VI, VII, and VIII.”

At the same time, Guevarra said the IAC approved “the revised operational guidelines for a more efficient flow of work.”

“We streamlined the procedure for determining whether a case falls under the ambit of AO 35 or constitutes an ordinary crime,” he said.