Justice Secretary Leila M. De Lima signed Department Order No. 726 last September 30, 2013 identifying prosecutors from all over the country that will be designated to handle cases involving extralegal/extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearance and torture.
"These prosecutors will be the team leaders of the composite team of prosecutors and law enforcement agents created by Administrative Order No. 35," explains De Lima.
Administrative Order No. 35, signed by President Benigno S. Aquino III last 22 November 2012, created the Inter-Agency Committee (IAC) composed of the Department of Justice (DOJ), as Chairperson, Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), Department of National Defense (DND), Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP), Office of the Presidential Adviser for Political Affairs (OPA), Presidential Human Rights Committee (PHRC), Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Philippine National Police (PNP) and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI). Dubbed as the "superbody", the IAC is the inter-agency mechanism of the Aquino Administration designed to ensure effective investigations and successful prosecutions of grave human rights violations.
DOJ Department Order No. 726 selected and designated prosecutors from all the administrative units of the National Prosecution Service (NPS) of the DOJ who will lead the special investigation teams that will undertake case build-up of human rights violations covered by the Administrative Order. Their efforts to secure a successful prosecution will be monitored closely by special oversight teams composed of seasoned prosecutors and investigators (from PNP-CIDG and NBI), who are mandated to provide guidance to the investigators and prosecutors on the ground and also submit recommendations to the IAC.
The DOJ Secretary stated that, "the composite team approach, as implemented by A.O. No. 35 and D.O. 726, will hopefully secure the paradigm shift in our ranks that will encourage our prosecutors to take a more pro-active approach at the investigation level." She is confident that "a more active and more involved prosecution" will contribute greatly to a higher conviction rate on cases involving egregious human rights violations.
De Lima adds, "[o]nce the designated prosecutors have complied with certain administrative requirements, we are ready to endorse, within the week, the first wave of A.O. 35 cases of suspected extrajudicial killings for the conduct of criminal investigation by the composite team, as headed by the designated A.O. 35 prosecutor."
The IAC is set to meet tomorrow, October 8, 2013, at the Department of National Defense, to discuss the updates on the implementation of A.O. No. 35, inventory of torture cases and the communications plan of the body.