Review of drug war late but needed: Ping

    SEN. Panfilo “Ping” Lacson yesterday said President Duterte’s order to the Department of Justice and the PNP to review the conduct of the much-criticized war on illegal drugs may be a bit late but conceded that a review is needed.

    Duterte’s directive, issued when he spoke before world leaders at the 76th United Nations General Assembly, came after a pre-trial chamber of the International Criminal Court had authorized the conduct of investigation into crimes against humanity cases filed against Duterte in connection with the bloody crackdown on the illegal drugs trade since he assumed office in 2016.

    “Maybe, it’s a bit too late for a review of the government’s anti-drug campaign.

    Nevertheless, nothing is too late when lives of poor Filipinos suspected of being involved in peddling drugs are concerned while large volumes of illegal drugs continue to pass through the regular ports,” Lacson said.

    “If only for this reason, no matter how late, the President’s instruction to review the policy is still worth the support of Filipinos,” he added.

    Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra on Wednesday said Duterte’s instruction is a “clear directive” to pursue the ongoing review of deaths in anti-drug operations.

    Last February, Guevarra told the UN Human Rights Council that initial findings of the DOJ-led inter-agency review of drug war-related deaths since 2016 showed there were many instances where police failed to follow standard protocols in the coordination of drug raids and in the processing of crime scenes.

    The initial findings also showed there was no full examination of the weapons recovered, no verification of ownership and no ballistic or paraffin tests were pursued.

    PNP chief Guillermo Eleazar Duterte’s recent pronouncement about the review of the war on illegal drugs is nothing new.

    In a press briefing at Camp Crame, Eleazar said the PNP and the Department of Justice have been collaborating on the review of the campaign as early as last year.

    “We would like to say that we are already doing that (review) since the President made an imprimatur when he designated the DOJ to review these drug cases,” Eleazar said, referring to Duterte’s creation of an inter-agency panel tasked to review drug operations that led to the deaths of thousands.

    DOJ Secretary Menardo Guevarra announced the creation of the panel before the United Nations Human Rights Council in June last year.

    Eleazar said the PNP has initially forwarded to the DOJ 52 case folders of police operations that resulted in the death of suspects. Policemen involved in these operations were found administratively liable.

    “Now that the President mentioned it again, the more we will enhance our cooperation (with the DOJ),” Eleazar said, adding the PNP has nothing to hide in the war against illegal drugs. – With Victor Reyes