De Lima to DOJ: Probe alleged falsified death certificates of drug war victims

Opposition Senator Leila de Lima on Tuesday, June 7 urged the Department of Justice (DOJ) to conduct a deeper, more comprehesinve and investigation into the alleged falsified death certificates of the people who were killed under Duterte’s “war on drugs.”

De Lima, a staunch critic of the Duterte administration’s drug war, made the call following the release of a special report by Reuters showing that the official death certificates of at least 15 drug war victims were falsified to make it appear they died of natural causes.

“In a special report (‘A pathologist, a priest and a hunt for justice in PH’), Reuters has documented the humanitarian, compassionate and heroic efforts of Fr. Flavie Villanueva and Dr. Raquel Fortun which led to the discovery of another terrain of manipulation and deceit in the administration of justice for the victims of Duterte’s drug war,” de Lima said in a statement.

“We need a more comprehensive and public accountable investigation from the DOJ, and not the cherry-picking investigation currently being pursued,” said the senator who is currently detained over drug charges.

“Otherwise, all these official investigations are not helping the victims and the public at all, but only the image of this outgoing Duterte administration,” she said.

The Reuters report, which was published last June 2, followed the efforts of Fortun, a forensic pathologist at the University of the Philippines - Manila, Villanueva and the families of drug war victims who are seeking justice.

Both Fortun and Villanueva have been helping families of the victims by properly and methodically investigating the cause of their deaths.

The report cited that the death certificates of drug war victims stated that the deceased had succumbed to natural causes such as pneumonia “instead of saying they were shot.”

“Reuters found that the official death certificates of at least 15 drug war victims did not reflect the violent manner in which police and family members said they died,” the report read.

De Lima lamented how the families were forced to accept erroneous death certificates due to poverty and veiled threats and intimidation.

“Obviously, ‘nanlaban,’ ‘tanim baril’ and ‘tanim droga’ are not the only modus operandi being employed to avoid prosecution in the cold blood killings. The falsified death certificate is another insidious scheme,” de Lima said.

“And I believe that there are more of these system-corrupting schemes clogging the pathways to hold accountable the perpetrators of horrific crimes under Duterte’s drug war and ensure justice for thousands of victims,” she reiterated.

The lawmaker said she is confident that the light of faith and medical science—and courageous reporting—are “penetrating the curtain of lies and propaganda in the murderous drug war” led by Duterte.

“The justice system has to carry this discovery to avoid a total miscarriage of justice in the drug war killings and other crimes where proper death investigation and certification are crucial,” she said.

“It’s time for the legal system to take a more involved and determined institutional action in this direction,” de Lima stressed.