DOJ drug report shows Duterte not ‘soft’ on erring cops

DOJ drug report shows Duterte not ‘soft’ on erring cops

MANILA – Malacañang on Thursday said the release of information on the 52 drug war-related deaths shows that President Rodrigo Duterte is not “soft” on police officers who might have violated human rights.

On Wednesday, the Department of Justice (DOJ) released a 20-page document showing information that could help the families of victims attain justice as it encourages more witnesses to come out and testify.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said this information will facilitate case buildup by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) for the possible filing of criminal charges against erring police officers.

“Yung desisyon ng DOJ proves na we are not soft kasi nga po kakasuhan yung 52. ‘Yan po ang ibig sabihin nung sinabi ni [Justice] Secretary [Menardo] Guevarra na ni-refer nila to NIB for case building (The decision of the DOJ proves that we are not soft because we will be filing cases against the 52. That is what Secretary Guevarra meant when he said he would refer them to the NIB for case building),” he said in a Palace press briefing.

Roque expressed confidence that more evidence will be gathered against the 154 policemen involved in the said 52 anti-illegal drug operations if the evidence available is not sufficient to support the filing of a complaint.

“Kung kakasuhan dapat matibay ang ebidensya. Di na po siguro kinakailangan magkaroon pa ng bagong demand na mag examine dahil patuloy po ang gagawin ng DOJ. Rerepasuhin nila at iisa-isahin ang mga kasong ito (If there will be cases filed, there is strong evidence. Perhaps there would be no need to seek for further examination because the DOJ is doing so continuously. They will review these cases thoroughly),” he added.

He reiterated the DOJ report shows the government is doing its obligation to protect the right to life.

“’Yan naman po ang obligasyon ng estado, imbestigahan ang mga kaso na nagkaroon ng paglabag sa karapatan mabuhay (That is the obligation of the state, to investigate cases where there were violations of human rights),” he said.

Roque also justified the need for Duterte’s clearance before these reports are released.

“Mayroon naman pong synopsis na nilabas ang DOJ. Ang dahilan po kaya hindi maire-release verbatim kung ano yung investigation report na ‘yan (The DOJ already released a synopsis. The reason why they cannot release the investigation report in verbatim) is these are now live cases subject to police investigation by the NBI and constitute exception to freedom of information,” he added.

The DOJ earlier said it made public the cases to invite “any witnesses or persons with first-hand information helpful to the resolution of the 52 cases to come forward and approach to NBI for the taking of their statements.”

In several speeches, Duterte has assured police officers of protection as long as killings were done in the line of duty.

However, he said the government will continue to go after police officers who violate the law in anti-drug operations.

Roque earlier the DOJ report cleared Duterte of allegations that he tolerated extrajudicial killings.

“I think these findings of the DOJ will belie all claims that the President is responsible under the principle of command responsibility because on the contrary it proves that the Philippine state has in fact investigated and prosecuted individuals for these extralegal killings,” he added. (PNA)

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