August 24, 2022

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12 police officers charged for murder in drug war — Justice chief

GOVERNMENT prosecutors have charged 12 police officers for murder in cases relating to what could be wrongful deaths in the previous administration’s war on drugs, the Justice chief said on Wednesday.

In a live-streamed forum, Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin C. Remulla said this was the latest number of indictments against erring cops as many of the cases still lack witnesses.

“Some families don’t complain anymore because the people they lost were not well-behaved, and this is a sad aspect of the drug war,” he said.

“We are looking for witnesses for these extra-judicial killings, and we will use the witness protection program to protect those who give us leads.”

The Department of Justice (DoJ) earlier said government lawyers dismissed for lack of witnesses six out of 52 cases against rogue cops in former President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s anti-illegal drug campaign.

Justice Undersecretary Jesse Hermogenes T. Andres earlier said the agency is confident with the evidence in seven ongoing cases.

The DoJ had only brought five of the 52 cases involving 150 police officers to court since it started its own probe last year.   

Only 21% or 62,000 of 291,000 drug cases filed have led to convictions, Interior Secretary Benjamin C. Abalossaid in July, citing police data from 2016 to 2022.

Mr. Remulla noted that he would be willing to join President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. in New York for the United Nations General Assembly in September to discuss the country’s human rights situation.

The President earlier said the Philippines would not rejoin the International Criminal Court (ICC) as it may resume its probe into Mr. Duterte’s deadly drug war.

In June, ICC Prosecutor Karim Ahmad A. Khan asked the international tribunal’s pre-trial chamber to reopen the probe since the Philippines had failed to show it investigated crimes related to the campaign.

The ICC gave the Philippines up to Sept. 8 to submit comments and observations on the request to resume the international court’s drug war probe.

Mr. Remulla said the government is “not submitting anything as a matter of compliance, and we are not members of the ICC anymore. We have withdrawn from the Rome Statute.”

“We are doing this as a matter of comity to inform them that we are doing something on the problems we are supposed to solve on our own.” — John Victor D. Ordoñez and Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza