PH to UN: Work of drug war review panel in ‘full swing’

PH to UN: Work of drug war review panel in ‘full swing’

MANILA – The work of the review panel on cases of deaths in the anti-illegal drugs operations is in full swing.

The Philippine Permanent Mission to the United Nations in Geneva made the statement on October 7 during the oral updates by the High Commissioner for Human Rights on the Philippines at the 48th Regular Session of the Human Rights Council.

The foreign service post said the Department of Justice (DOJ) is also closely monitoring the preliminary investigation and prosecution of 87 criminal cases lodged against over a hundred law enforcement personnel.

“Our authorities are further strengthening disciplinary and accountability mechanisms with a human rights information system on violations and compliances by the 200,000-strong police force nationwide,” it said.

“Post-operation reports for all drugs-related operations and the mandatory use of body-worn cameras in police operations are strictly enforced,” it added.

Since 2016, sanctions were meted out against 18,664 police personnel for various offenses, with 5,151 dismissed from the service.

In September 2021 alone, seven policemen were charged by the Justice department with unlawful detention and murder of six victims in a fabricated operation early this year, it reported.

“Our institutions and accountability mechanisms are well-established and functioning. President Duterte at the UN General Assembly reiterated his unequivocal instruction for the DOJ and PNP (Philippine National Police) to ensure accountability for all found to have acted beyond bounds during operations,” the Philippine Permanent Mission said.

‘Model of constructive cooperation’

Meanwhile, it underlined the country’s commitment to engage the UN and the international community on human rights issues, citing the continuation into Phase II of the European Union Governance in Justice Program and the newly launched UN Joint Program (UNJP) that serves as a “model for constructive engagement” between a sovereign member state and the UN.

The UNJP on Human Rights is a technical cooperation framework that brings together the government, UN agencies, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR), and stakeholders around projects on accountability and the rule of law.

According to the Permanent Mission, the government has made an initial contribution of USD200,000 for the program.

The 3-year UNJP will center on the following:

– The national mechanism for reporting and follow-up, through the creation of a digital tracking database to mainstream human rights-based governance;

– The Inter-Agency Committee, which will investigate and prosecute human rights violations; strengthen the Witness Protection Program, and establish a national referral pathway for human rights cases; and

– A human rights-based approach to drug control and strengthening criminal justice responses for drug-related crimes.

The Philippine Mission also touched on the issue of red-tagging and allegations of reprisals against human rights defenders and cited a Senate Committee report that established the “sufficiency of existing legal remedies” to protect the constitutional rights of the supposed aggrieved parties.

It noted that the report has underscored the “failure of the groups purporting themselves to be victims of red-tagging” to explain the deaths of their young members in military encounters with the New People’s Army (NPA) as well as their refusal to dissociate themselves from and denounce the terrorist group Communist Party of the Philippines-NPA-National Democratic Front for its acts of aggression and atrocities.

“We have cautioned the [HRC] against groups that have misrepresented the situation in the Philippines and issues of our indigenous communities, under the cover of human rights defenders,” it said.

“We continue to seek UN support as we pursue the end of decades of CPP-NPA-NDF armed struggle against the Republic, against democracy and our institutions, and against the Filipino people,” it added.

The mission said the country stands for “depoliticizing human rights” and building pathways in the HRC for actions that invest in institutions and people on the ground. (PNA)

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