A total of 290 cases on deaths during illegal drugs operations has been under various stages of investigation and prosecution, the Department of Justice (DOJ) said on Monday, Jan. 30.
During the “Laging Handa” public briefing, DOJ Assistant Secretary and Spokesperson Jose Dominic F. Clavano IV said: “Itong mga kaso na ito hindi lang isa ang respondent. May iba na dalawa, tatlo, apat per case (There are more than one respondent in these cases. Others have two, three, or four respondents per case).”
Clavano assured that the DOJ will not stop in the prosecution and investigation of only the 290 cases.
“Marami pa tayong makukuhang information sa iba’t-ibang civil society organizations. Marami na pumupunta sa amin sa DOJ para ipaliwanag yung mga kwento nila (We pick up a lot of information from civil society groups. There are many who go to the DOJ to tell their stories),” he said.
“Ito ay isang magandanag development dahil dati syempre natatakot sila pumunta sa awtoridad. Ngayon po nakikita natin na mas open sila sa mga authorities at dito natin makikita na trustworthy naman po ang ating administrasyon (This is a good development because, before, they were afraid to go to authorities. Right now, we see that they are open to authorities and this shows how trustworthy the current administration is),” he pointed out.
At the same time, Clavano disclosed that “meron na tayong special task force na ginawa sa NBI, meron na tayong special panel of prosecutors to handle all the cases related to the drug war (Now, the National Bureau of Investigation has a special task force and the DOJ has a special panel of prosecutors to handle all these cases).”
He said the NBI special task force is also tasked “to investigate and to prosecute big time drug lords.”
The efforts of the government to probe and prosecute killings during illegal drugs operations were pointed out by Clavano after the International Criminal Court (ICC) announced last Jan. 26 that its Pre-Trial Chamber I allowed the ICC Office of the Prosecutor to resume investigation of the drug war killings in the Philippines that have taken place from Nov. 1, 2011 up to March 16, 2019.
The ICC’s announcement stated that “the Chamber concluded that the various domestic initiatives and proceedings, assessed collectively, do not amount to tangible, concrete and progressive investigative steps in a way that would sufficiently mirror the Court’s investigation.”
With all of these actions being taken by the government, Clavano asked the ICC to give the Philippines time to address the issue concerning the drug war killings.
“Hindi natin tinatalikuran ang ating mandato at ang ating responsibilidad na i-investigate at i-prosecute itong mga sangkot sa drugs war. Wala tayong pinoprotektahan. Wala tayong tinatago. It’s just plain work that we are doing here at the department (We are not turning away from our mandate and our responsibility to investigate and prosecute those involved in the drugs war. We are not protecting anyone. We are not hiding anything),” he stressed.
“Kailangan natin protektahan ang sovereignty ng ating bansa, ang independence ng ating bansa (We need to protect the sovereignty of our country, the independence of our country) but at the same time we will not stop in investigating and prosecuting this and we will get to the bottom of this,” he added.
The Philippines has been a state party since Nov. 1, 2011 of the Rome Statute that created the ICC. But on March 17, 2018, the government deposited, upon the instruction of then President Rodrigo R. Duterte, a written notification to the ICC that declared the country’s withdrawal from the Statute. The Philippine withdrawal from the Statute took effect on March 17, 2019.
With the withdrawal, Clavano said the ICC can’t compel the Philippines to submit itself to an investigation.
“Sa intenational law po kasi kailangan mo mag-consent na sumali sa isang treaty. At yun naman po pag sumali po kayo sa isang treaty, pag sumali ang gobyerno sa isang treaty ibig sabihin nun na you give up a part of your rights, your sovereign rights mo (In international law, a country’s consent is needed to join a treaty. When you join a treaty, it means to you give up a part of your rights, that is, your sovereignty),” he said.
“Pero dahil po nag-withdraw na tayo ibig sabihin nun hindi na tayo nagko-consent na isubmit ang ating bansa sa jurisdiction ng ICC. Kaya naging ganito na yung stance ng gobyerno na hindi naman po tayo member so wala na jurisdiction ang ICC sa ating bansa (Since we have withdrawn our membership, it means we are no longer consenting to submit our country to the jurisdiction of the ICC),” he explained.
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