THE DEPARTMENT of Justice (DoJ) has dropped 29 cases from its list of extralegal killings and torture cases for lack of evidence, according to the Justice secretary.
“We created a small working group to move the investigation and prosecution of cases of international humanitarian law violations,” Justice Secretary Menardo I. Guevarra told reporters in a Viber message on Tuesday.
“We delisted from our inventory certain old cases where witnesses could not be found or where complainants had desisted, with exception of enforced disappearance cases which shall continue to be in the active file,” he added.
Mr. Guevarra said 29 of these cases were from the Calabarzon and Eastern Visayas regions.
An inter-agency committee formed 15 teams last year that probed extralegal killings and human rights violations involving the government’s anti-illegal drug operations.
Mr. Guevarra said the agency had streamlined the procedure to classify cases as either ordinary crimes or incidents that the special committee could pursue.
The International Coalition for Human Rightssaid in March it would sanction the architects of President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s war on drugs.
The measure by the group is a follow-up on a report conducted last year by Investigate PH, an independent human rights group that alleged patterns of systemic human rights violations including crimes against humanity by the government.
Filipino lawyers have been calling on the International Criminal Court (ICC) to resume its probe of the government’s anti-illegal drug campaign, saying the Justice department was only looking into 52 deaths out of the tens of thousands killed.
Government prosecutors have filed charges in court against law enforcers in four cases and plan to probe 250 more of what could have been wrongful deaths in Mr. Duterte’s drug war, Mr. Guevarra told the United Nations Human Rights Council in February.
The Philippines would remain “positively engaged” with the international community and all human rights mechanisms on issues concerning rule of law and institutions in the country, he said. “But we will draw the line between parties that engage in good faith, and those that abuse and exploit these mechanisms to make demands of accountability with little or no factual basis.” — John Victor D. Ordoñez