CHR says left out in initial drug war review

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 13 2021 08:55 AM | Updated as of Jan 13 2021 09:16 AM

Relatives of extrajudicial killings (EJK) hold a protest in front of the Philippine Army and police headquarters in Quezon City on July 17, 2019. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) on Wednesday said it was not involved in the initial review of the deaths of thousands of drug suspects under President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs.

"Contrary to the commitments that were made during the last [United Nations] Human Rights Council that the commission will play an important role in this high-level review panel, we have not been involved despite the fact that we wrote already 4 times and our letters were left unanswered," CHR commissioner Karen Gomez-Dumpit told ANC.

She said the agency was surprised when the "first initial report," which has yet to be made public, was submitted to the President.

"We were quite surprised about it because we're expecting to be part of it from the beginning," Dumpit added.

As an independent mechanism, she said the CHR could offer "fresh eyes" into the report and could have also presented the evidence they have gathered.

Dumpit expressed concern of a possible whitewash if the drug war review was "done under the shadow."

"Publicize that report or at least share it to the commission so that the victims and their families can get access to those information that they need so they could pursue justice for the victims," she said.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said Monday the DOJ completed its partial review of the government's anti-narcotics drive, which took more than 5,000 lives.

“The initial report dated 29 Dec 2020 has just been submitted to the Office of the President. Let’s give him time to pore over it,” he said.

Guevarra had also said they would eventually seek the CHR’s help.

“We intend to engage with the CHR in this endeavor. As I said, the initial report is only a partial one. Our efforts have been severely hampered by current restrictions on mobility and physical access to records. Much collaborative work remains to be done,” he said.

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