MANILA, Philippines – The government has created an inter-agency panel that will reinvestigate 5,655 "nanlaban" deaths, or deaths of people who "fought back," in legitimate anti-drug operations.
It is a belated move since the death toll in police operations had reached 5,000 as early as 2018.
Still, the creation of the panel was quite a surprising move for the government, considering the choice words of Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra who announced it to the United Nations Human Rights Council.
"The Philippine National Police is obliged by its internal mechanism to conduct motu proprio investigations whether or not there are complainants on all law enforcement operations that result in deaths, and take action on this basis," said Guevarra, shattering the long-running police claim that these operations enjoy presumption of regularity.
The government trying to make systems work is a welcome thing, but is it sincere and is it moving fast enough?
We take a nuanced look at policy work with Ateneo Human Rights Center (AHRC) executive director Ray Paolo Santiago.
While the AHRC is an independent organization, it has also been working with the Department of Justice in some of its efforts to respond to human rights issues. It has published a paper on the flawed legal framework of the drug war.
"The Philippine government is composed of many, many individuals. You can't say that just because we don't trust one individual, it's the whole government mechanism that we can't trust anymore. Just the same, we can't say that just because we trust one person, we fully trust the whole government," Santiago said.
Listen to this podcast for the discussion.
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