DOJ chief says Duterte may speak about PH's drug war review in UNGA speech
Mike Navallo, ABS-CBN News
Posted at Sep 21 2021 01:38 PM
Protesters led by BAYAN march along España boulevard to Mendiola in Manila to mark the 5th year of President Duterte in office on June 30, 2021. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News
MANILA — Despite refusing to divulge details about his department’s second drug war review weeks after its completion, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra offered a hint to reporters Tuesday.
"Listen to the President’s address to the UN General Assembly tomorrow,” he told reporters in a message.
The DOJ has not released copies of its two drug war review reports.
The first drug war review report was completed in December 2020. The second one involving 52 cases from the files of the Philippine National Police was submitted to the President "last week."
Whether or not the DOJ will disclose details of the new report, Guevarra said: “I will not pre-empt the President...Let’s just wait for the President’s action. Then we can discuss."
Malacañang on Sunday said Duterte will participate in the High-Level General Debate of the 76th Session of the UNGA dawn of Wednesday in Manila.
In a statement, the Office of the Presidential Protocol and Office of Presidential Assistant on Foreign Affairs said Duterte, during the event, will be advancing Philippine positions on global issues such as universal access to COVID-19 vaccines, climate change, human rights and international and regional security developments.
Guevarra also shared that the DOJ would send a separate letter to PNP chief Gen. Guillermo Eleazar this week regarding the findings of the second drug war review report and requesting a meeting.
"I have verbally advised him of what we intend to do, and he has promised his support and cooperation,” Guevarra said of Eleazar.
Guevarra has been citing the need to seek the President’s clearance as well as to sit down with the PNP leadership before disclosing their findings ever since he announced the completion of the first report in January this year.
The media has repeatedly asked for copies of the first report ever since, but to no avail.
In June last year during the 44th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council, Guevarra announced that the Philippines was conducting a review
concerning 5,655 suspects who died during drug operations, amid intense international criticisms over the Philippines’ war on drugs.
Prior to Guevarra’s statement, the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights released a report to the UNHRC last year detailing widespread human rights violations and persistent impunity in the Philippines, brought about by a heavy-handed focus on security threats and illegal drugs.
Guevarra’s statement, among other promises by the Philippine government, were widely seen as intended to thwart calls for an international independent probe on the Philippines, including a then-pending preliminary examination by the International Criminal Court (ICC) on drug war killings in the country.
Instead of an international probe, the UNHRC passed a resolution in October 2020 which only called for support to human rights promotion in the Philippines through technical cooperation and capacity-building, short of an independent international probe.
But the ICC communications progressed.
In May this year, then-outgoing ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda sought permission from the ICC’s Pre-Trial Chamber to proceed with a formal investigation into the drug war killings in the Philippines. It was approved last week.
Guevarra has refused to comment on the ICC proceedings, referring the matter to Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin, Jr. and Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque instead.
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