Responding to Department of Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra’s statement at the UN Human Rights Council’s 46th regular session, Section Director Butch Olano said:
“Secretary Guevarra’s address to the UN Human Rights Council was a statement of astounding contradictions – while asserting that the country’s legal and judicial systems are functioning as they should, he openly admitted that the PNP failed to process crime scenes, and had not examined weapons that were allegedly used by “nanlaban” suspects, nor carry out other basic protocols in anti-drug operations over the past four years. He said that domestic accountability mechanisms were working in the Philippines, and that “scores” of administrative and criminal cases against the police have been recommended, but also insisted that the bloody drug campaign would continue.
“Duterte’s drug policy has certainly bled through the different levels of law enforcement as it was also announced the same day as Secretary Guevarra’s speech, that the Cordillera Police Regional Office, by way of a resolution, shall adopt a “Tokhang” campaign against “leftist personalities”, already under indiscriminate attacks in the country. This is the same campaign used to launch the “war on drugs” that has become synonymous with extrajudicial killings.
“Violations by the police in the ongoing ‘war on drugs’ and crackdown on activists are exactly what Amnesty International have cried accountability for. If the government was truly committed to justice, they would end human rights violations, including the harassment of independent media, and widening attacks against activists and human rights defenders.
“President Duterte must stop inciting violence and extrajudicial killings, and take meaningful steps to implement the recommendations of the UN High Commissioner’s 2020 report in full, without further delay. And if he really has nothing to hide, allow immediate, full and unfettered access to the OHCHR and UN Special Rapporteurs.
“Amnesty International continues to urge the Human Rights Council to take overdue action and launch an independent international investigation to address the situation, and end the cycle of impunity which continues to fuel violations. The international community cannot stand by as bodies pile up, as human rights defenders continue to be arrested and the media silenced and harassed. They must not wait any longer for the empty promises made by the Philippine government to address the crises to be fulfilled because this may never happen.”
On 24 February, Secretary Menardo Guevarra addressed the UNHRC and reported on the initial findings of a government panel led by the DOJ investigating on anti-drug police operations that led to the killing of drug suspects, admitting that the assessment was ‘not so flattering‘. He mentioned irregularities post police operations and said that the Philippine National Police has already been given recommendations on how to address the findings.
On the same day, a resolution signed by law enforcement agencies and the local government in the Cordillera Administrative Region led by CAR’s Regional Law Enforcement Coordinating Committee “enjoining” law enforcement agencies and local government units to conduct “Tokhang” vs “left-leaning” personalities in government, media and other entities.