Secretary of Justice Menardo Guevarra announced on June 30, 2020, that the Department of Justice (DOJ) leads an inter-agency panel that has been quietly conducting a judicious review since February of the 5,655 anti-illegal drugs operations where deaths occurred.
The announcement was made during the enhanced interactive dialogue on human rights in the Philippines at the on-going 44th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland.
The Secretary said that the review panel is guided by President Duterte's directive to realize and sustain his promise to the Filipino people of a drug-free Philippines, where people are safe and their rights protected, with full transparency and accountability.
The panel has since ironed out logistical and other operational requirements, including the sharing of data and case files by, among others, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) and the Philippine National Police (PNP). It will be carrying out a re-evaluation of all investigations and actions to further reinforce existing domestic mechanisms for transparency and full accountability of the anti-illegal drug campaign.
The Secretary has further stressed that, as with all human rights-related mechanisms in the country that work in a transparent and inclusive manner, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) will be involved in its capacity as an independent monitoring body. The CHR is a Constitutional body that is recognized as one of most independent human rights institutions in the world. Similarly, other non-government and sector stakeholders, including affected families, will be involved in the panel’s work, as necessary.
The review panel is the newest addition to the web of well-established national institutions that address cases of human rights violations and prevent impunity in the country. One such notable institution is the AO 35 Inter-Agency Committee on Extra-Legal Killings, Enforced Disappearances, Torture, and Other Grave Violations to Life, Liberty and Security of Persons which is chaired by the DOJ.
These accountability mechanisms affirm that democracy and strong institutions in the country do not permit the commission of systemic violations as alleged. In surfacing realities on the ground that contradict claims of such violations, including sweeping allegations of crimes against humanity, the Philippine government is determined to fully exercise its obligation to investigate, prosecute and punish, and to exhaust all available domestic mechanisms in this respect.