MANILA — The justice department's recent report on violations in the anti-narcotics drive of President Rodrigo Duterte proves that the Philippine legal system "is working" and that the country does not need "interference" from other institutions, Malacañang said on Thursday.
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra on Wednesday told the United Nations Human Rights Council that in more than half of drug war records reviewed, "the law enforcement agents involved failed to follow standard protocols pertaining to coordination with other agencies and the processing of the crime scene."
"Itong naunang pahayag ng ating Secretary of Justice ay patunay na seryoso po tayo sa obligasyon natin na mag-imbestiga at maglitis dahil hinaharap po natin ang katotohanan na posible pong may ilang mga alagad ng batas na kinakailangan sigurong managot sa ating batas dito sa Pilipinas,” said Palace spokesman Harry Roque
(This statement of our Secretary of Justice is proof that we are serious in our obligation to investigate and prosecute because we admit there are possibly some law enforcers who need to be held accountable before our law in the Philippines.)
“That proves that our domestic legal system is working at hindi po dapat manghimasok ang ibang mga institusyon. Bigyan po natin ng pagkakataon ang ating legal system na gumana,” he told reporters in an online briefing.
(Other institutions should not interfere. Let us give our legal system a chance to work.)
However, Roque said Guevarra's report to the UN “does not prove anything” regarding the alleged rights violations in the drug war.
“What is accepted as proof of commission of a crime is generally the decision of a court,” he said.
“What it does prove is that we are in the discharge of our state obligation to investigate and prosecute violations of the right to life.”
The justice department had looked into around 5,000 deaths in the drug war. The inquiry covered several "pilot areas" with "concentrated" deaths, like Central Luzon, Region 4, and "major cities," Guevarra said earlier this month.
His statement to the UN is the first in which a top official of the Duterte administration admitted wide-scale lapses in the President's flagship anti-drug campaign. It comes on the heels of various criticisms from the international community.
In July 2019, the UNHRC adopted a resolution seeking a comprehensive report on the human rights situation in the Philippines.
In June last year, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights released a report that documented widespread human rights violations and persistent impunity in the Philippines.
UN special rapporteur Agnes Callamard in February challenged the justice department to include Duterte in its probe to seek accountability for deaths in the narcotics crackdown.
The President had often publicly defended police officers implicated in the killings of drug suspects, and repeatedly promised protection. However, Duterte and his aides have repeatedly denied rights violations in the drug war, saying suspects were killed because they resisted arrest.
Video courtesy of PTV