DOJ to release info on 52 drug war deaths Wednesday

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MANILA, Philippines — The National Union of Public Lawyers (NUPL) on Tuesday said the plan of the Department of Justice to release information on the 52 cases linked to the government’s war against illegal drugs is just “going through the motions” rather than being a “proactive desire to decisively stop the carnage and the impunity.”

According to NUPL president Edre Olalia, the DOJ’s announcement seemed like a good development at first, appearing to indicate progress in investigating and making those responsible liable.

“But then again, considering the paltry number, the inordinate lateness, and the unusual tentativeness, it is vulnerable to being viewed more of going through the motions rather than as a thoroughgoing and proactive desire to decisively stop the carnage and the impunity,” said Olalia.

“The sound of the trumpeting elephant in the room bellows: Why are these extrajudicial killings happening in the first place and why are a puny number of  ‘erring police officers’ taking the fall all alone even at this very overdue time?” he added.

Meanwhile, human rights group Karapatan added that the DOJ should go beyond a “mere filing of cases against erring police officers.”

According to the group, the public — especially the families of victims — deserve clear answers to these questions:

What are the patterns in these killings?

Who are the perpetrators and from what basis or orders have they conducted the said violations?

What are the implications of the policies of the Philippine National Police as well as the President’s pronouncements on such acts? and;

Why are only .8% of the 6,151 reported deaths by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency being investigated and reviewed?

Karapatan Secretary General Kristina Palabay said these unanswered questions make it seem that these efforts can only be “mere window dressing by the current administration” especially amid the scrutiny of the International Criminal Court and the United Nations Human Rights Council.

“Without establishing the clear patterns of killings, as well as the level of command responsibility and policy issues on these violations, such piecemeal acts do little to render justice and to will and institute genuine policy change,” Palabay said.

The DOJ earlier announced that it will release certain information about the 52 drug war cases, as part of its recognition of the importance of transparency in its review process, in a 20-page matrix on Wednesday.


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