Lawyers’ group rues Duterte order to keep files on some drug-war cases off-limits
MANILA—A lawyers' group on Wednesday said it was "unfortunate" that the Philippine National Police had to keep files on drug-war related cases off-limits, following President Rodrigo Duterte's order citing confidentiality.
"It is unfortunate that this is an effective marching order that countermands what was temptingly an optimistic take on the so-called openness," National Union of Peoples' Lawyers president Edre Olalia told ANC.
He criticized that the order was like "one-size-fits-all" cases as the President cited national security.
"What we're saying is that we may have spoken too soon. Some of us have spoken too soon to say that it's encouraging. Let's give them a chance in this policy shift," Olalia said.
He noted that the International Criminal Court, which opened a preliminary examination into Duterte's anti-drugs campaign, and the UN Human Rights Council would conduct their next session in July.
On Tuesday, the police force walked back on a pronouncement giving the Department of Justice full access to drug war-related documents in all cases investigated by the PNP-Internal Affairs Service.
PNP chief Guillermo Eleazar has clarified his office could only share resolved cases with the DOJ for review. He earlier said the PNP was willing to grant the justice department access to all the records of more than 7,000 deaths during drug operations “as long as the DOJ requested for [their] availability.”
This developed after Duterte said they couldn't give all the documents for review since there were confidential matters that involve “national security.”
“Itong confidential documents hindi niyo pwede tignan iyan. Tignan niyo nalang ano nangyari. We do not mind you even accompanying or be with a team that are operating, different teams but you are invited to join, pwede kayo.. .you can keep a healthy distance and see how the government operates,” he said during his weekly television address Monday night.
Official records show more than 7,000 have been killed in drug-related police operations while rights groups estimate the actual number to be much higher.