Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra on Wednesday said the department has already received from the Philippine National Police information on all 53 cases of drug war-related deaths where policemen may be criminally liable.
“With the exception of eight administrative cases that the PNP-IAS (Internal Affairs Service) has not completely disposed of, 53 case files were delivered to the DOJ,” Guevarra said in a text message to reporters.
“We shall immediately go over the contents of these files and decide how to proceed further,” he added.
Guevarra underscored that since the department started reviewing the drug war cases, President Rodrigo Duterte had never intervened.
“I think we just need to understand what the President really wanted to say. You see, I spoke about the drug war review last year before the United Nations (UN), and he didn’t say anything to restrain it. I submitted an initial report to the President and spoke again before the Human Rights Council last February, noting certain lapses in police operations. The President never called my attention to it,” he said.
“Then the DOJ and the PNP agreed to share information on administrative cases filed against erring police officers. Up to that point, the President has not raised any objection,” Guevarra added.
According to the Justice Secretary, there is also no need for the DOJ to seek approval from the President for the conduct of the review of the drug war cases.
“We do not find it necessary to seek the President’s approval for any criminal investigation and prosecution that may ensue. Unless the President directs me otherwise, I’ll just do what I have to do as Justice Secretary. But we shall keep in mind his concern for national security as we evaluate each and every case,” Guevarra said.
Duterte earlier said the PNP could not release all the records of the controversial war on drugs because of “national security.”
Guevarra said the President may only be concerned about the release of data on the network of drug syndicates, their protectors and financiers, the foreign suppliers, and other classified information.
“As far as the President is concerned, the festering illegal drug problem is not just an ordinary criminal matter. It has risen up to the level of a national security concern, as it threatens the very fabric of a peaceful and orderly society,” he said.
Meanwhile, despite the series of incidents involving police officers in violent crimes, Philippine National Police chief Gen. Guillermo Eleazar on Wednesday assured the public that reforms will rid the force of scalawags within its ranks.
“We are serious in pushing for reforms within the police organization. I am exhausting all efforts to get rid of these few police scalawags who put the PNP in a bad light. Like all of you, I also hate rotten and undisciplined police officers,” he said in a statement.
Eleazar said he understands the public’s outrage over Monday night’s incident where Master Sgt. Hensie Zinampan fatally shot 52-year-old Lilibeth Valdez in Barangay Greater Fairview, Quezon City.
The killing was captured on video that has since gone viral on social media.