The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) on Wednesday raised grave concern for the “considerable” delay in the implementation of a warrant of arrest for three policemen accused of involvement in the murder of Spanish businessman Diego Bello Lafuente in January 2020.
“This delay, despite the accused officers having been informed of the charges against them and the issuance of the warrant of arrest on 25 March 2022, goes beyond the reasonable promptness required in the effective administration of justice,” CHR executive director Jacqueline Ann de Guia said.
Such unreasonable delays in legal proceedings for failure to implement an arrest warrant causes a breakdown in the justice system due to the prevention of a timely and effective legal redress to the victim, she stressed.
“In the same light, a protracted legal proceeding only extends the injustice experienced by alleged perpetrators should they eventually be found innocent,” De Guia said.
“We strongly urge the Philippine National Police to exert all efforts to locate the accused so that legal proceedings may continue and both the accused and the aggrieved may seek the remedy of the courts in the pursuit of justice,” she added.
Lafuente, a suspected high-value drug suspect, was killed in a buy-bust operation in Siargao Islands on Jan. 8, 2020 for allegedly attempting to fight the police.
The Office of the Prosecutor General in a Feb. 9 resolution, charged Capt. Wise Vicente Panuelos, and staff sgts. Ronel Pazo and Nido Boy Cortes with murder and planting of evidence for Lafuente’s death before the 13th Judicial Region in Surigao del Norte.
According to De Guia, the speedy and impartial resolution of cases is significant in ensuring the improvement of the country’s justice system in responding to cases involving alleged human rights violation in the campaign against illegal drugs.
“This remains paramount in a democratic country such as ours and in line with the obligations of the state duty-bound to respect, protect and fulfil the rights of citizens and individuals within their territory,” she said.
“Genuine commitment to the pursuit of justice and human rights contribute to a well-governed State. With this, the Philippines can easily foster good relations with other States and continue support for existing preferential trade agreements, economic, and technical aid among others when
it demonstrates concrete measures and initiatives that address national and international concerns, including the human rights situation in the Philippines,” she emphasized.