By Ernie Reyes
MANILA — Senator Leila De Lima on Saturday laid down the huge difference between the Inter-Agency Committee (IAC) on Extra-Legal Killings (ELKs) formed under Administrative Order No. 35 in 2012 by President Benigno Aquino, and the inter-agency panel supposedly led by Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra that is looking into the drug war EJKs in the country.
“First, the IAC on ELKs then was not working with the baggage of a presidential policy that not only encourages and boosts the commission of summary executions of drug suspects, but actually calls for an efficient implementation of the EJKs,” De Lima said.
In short, she added that the Guevarra EJK panel perfectly knows well that before they can satisfactorily solve any of the drug war EJKs, they have first to investigate Duterte himself.
“That is never going to happen. If they even dare, Duterte will only fire them. Only the Ombudsman has the institutional powers and constitutional independence to investigate Duterte. No one else. Unfortunately, the Ombudsman is all too timid to go after Duterte,” De Lima surmised.
Second, she said, that the Guevarra panel was created merely for window-dressing and cosmetic purposes.
“Unfortunately, the UNHRC in its last resolution on the Philippine human rights situation allowed itself to be taken for a ride by the creation of this panel, and apparently believed that it can spell the difference and end the massacre of the poor in the Philippines. Mukhang napaniwala sila na kayang imbestigahan ng panel na ito si Duterte,” she said.
Third, being a cosmetic tool to divert and mislead international attention from the drug war and the crimes against humanity committed in its name, the panel already failed to deliver on its commitment to the UNHRC to come up with a report on the drug war EJKs by November 2020. It’s almost Christmas and there is still no such report, the former justice secretary said.
Fourth, she added that the international human rights community cannot rely on the Guevarra panel, the same way it relied on the AO 35 IAC on ELKs for honest-to-goodness investigations, because Duterte’s policy is to shield the PNP officers who carry out Duterte’s ‘kill, kill, kill’ orders from accountability.
“This explains why among the thousands of EJKs committed by the PNP and its agents since 2016, and except for one (1) case, the killing of Kian delos Santos, the policemen involved were never brought to preliminary investigation, much less prosecuted in court,” De Lima said.
De Lima said that the ICC Prosecutor Bensouda has only to take note of these bare facts to realize that Guevarra’s panel is not about to make any difference to change her office’s preliminary findings on the Philippine situation that crimes against humanity are being committed by State officials and agents, and that the mastermind of these crimes, Mr. Duterte, is beyond the reach of any genuine domestic mechanism of accountability.
“Duterte’s single platform of government is the carnage of suspected drug offenders. Everybody knows that. That is why we have thousands summarily executed. The Guevarra panel, even granting for a moment that it is not a deliberate ruse to confound the UNHRC and the ICC, is like a sprinkle of water over the raging wildfire that is the mass murder of thousands of human beings. Its dubious nature is to be legally useless from the very beginning, and to save Duterte from the international reckoning that is about to be rendered upon him,” the lady senator said. (AI/FC/MTVN)