The Commission on Human Rights on Friday raised deep concern over the news of another death of a minor, a 16-year old boy who allegedly fought back when police officers were serving a warrant for a drug case in Biñan, Laguna.
“We shall be conducting our own independent probe on this incident to pursue the truth behind the incident and, more importantly, in pursuit of justice should it be proven that a human rights violation was perpetrated by the police,” spokesperson Jacqueline Ann de Guia said.
Based on the official report of the Philippine National Police in Calabarzon, victims Johndy Maglinte, 16, and his companion Antonio Dalit exchanged shots with the Laguna police when they were serving a warrant for the latter, which led to their death.
Maglinte’s live-in partner, also a minor, recounted in several media interviews how Dalit was killed first and, since Johndy witnessed the alleged killing, the police reportedly shot him, too, handcuffed with his face down in the mud.
“As such, we strongly urge the government to speed up their investigations on cases of alleged extrajudicial killings, especially those linked to the government’s drug campaign. Notably, there was already an observation from the United Nations Human Rights Office on the ‘widespread and systematic killing of thousands of alleged drug suspects’ and the persistent impunity in the country that urgently needs to be addressed,” De Guia said.
“We hope that commitments to uphold human rights translate to delivering justice to the aggrieved and improvements on government programmes and policies, including reviewing the conduct of State agents in implementing them,” she said.
“Our government has the primary obligation to respect, protect, and fulfill the rights of all. It is to the best interest of the government as well to demonstrate that lapses are firmly and urgently addressed and that reforms are also underway to allay concerns of the international community on the effectiveness of our domestic justice and accountability mechanisms,” she added.
Meanwhile, Senator Risa Hontiveros said she would file a Senate resolution for a probe on the “unabated” killings during police operations.
The senator noted these police operations had claimed the lives of thousands of Filipinos, including children and teenagers. She did not mention the exact figures.
Hontiveros, who chairs the Senate Committee on Women, Children, Family Relations and Gender Equality, believed Maglinte’s death was no longer an isolated case.
She related that many other cases of police brutality had led to the death of helpless teenagers. In 2018, Kian delos Santos, Carl Arnaiz, and Reynaldo de Guzman.
She said they were all teenagers killed during a so-called “One Time, Big Time” operation of the Caloocan City police.
“In the middle of a pandemic, no less, this administration continues to inflict nationwide emotional trauma on Filipinos,” she said.
Meanwhile, a former law dean said Malacañang’s decision not to cooperate with the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) probe in the drug war was the correct approach.
Amado Valdez, former University of the East (UE) law dean, said the jurisdiction of the ICC applies only to genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes.
“Malacañang is doing the right thing. I do not see any situation like these [genocide, etc.] in the Philippines,” he said in an interview with NET-25’s Balitalakayan.
Valdez also reiterated the Philippines’ withdrawal from the ICC in March 2019.
“In terms of the ICC jurisdiction, the prosecutor’s (Fatou Bensouda) action is already invalid. In the first place, we have already withdrawn from the International Criminal Court since 2019,” he said,
The Philippine National Police, for its part, reiterated that the country’s justice system was working and there is no need for international bodies to intervene.
In a statement, PNP chief, Gen. Guillermo Eleazar assured the wheels of justice in the country were in motion and that local remedies were working when it came to investigating human rights abuse claims in the government’s anti-drug campaign.
Eleazar was responding to the CHR statement expressing hope that domestic remedies work before the International Criminal Court investigates accusations of crimes against humanity in the enforcement of the government’s campaign against illegal drugs.
He said one of these remedies was the partnership of the PNP and the Department of Justice in reviewing cases involving policemen found to have committed lapses on the Police Operating Procedure in the conduct of anti-illegal drug operations. With Nijel Aquino and James Gomez