Remulla Thumbs Down Independent Probe Body On Drug War Deaths
The Justice Secretary said there is no need to create a similar body because the DOJ remains “transparent” in its investigations into the killings of drug suspects by rogue police officers.
Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla has thumbed down a proposal to create an independent commission to investigate the killings in the previous ad-ministration’s war on drugs.
In an ambush interview at the Department of Justice (DOJ) in Manila on Friday, March 17, Remulla said he “doesn’t like the idea” of creating a separate drug war investigating body, which will have “no value” because of the ongoing investigations.
“A lot of people have suggested this to me and I’ve always looked upon it without any positive view because I’ve seen this commission’s work before and they never really did a good thing,” Remulla said.
He cited the Agrava commission that investigated the assassination of democracy icon and senator Benigno Aquino Jr. who, according to the fact-finding board, was killed in a military conspiracy and not a communist plot as alleged by the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos Sr.
Remulla said there is no need to create a similar body because the DOJ remains “transparent” in its investigations into the killings of drug suspects by rogue police officers.
“We’re transparent. President (Marcos Jr.) wants us to be very transparent about what we do. And that’s why we face you guys on a daily basis and we do not hide from questions that we can answer, except for those that we cannot give you, answers we cannot give you because there are some things that are considered confidential,” Remulla said.
The DOJ has also been transparent in providing the International Criminal Court (ICC) with documents that show the Philippine government is not remiss in prosecuting police officers accused of killing mostly poor and defenseless suspects, the secretary said.
“We want to be very, very transparent about what we do. That’s part of the whole process that we want to follow when it comes to the ICC,” Remulla said.
Solicitor General Menardo Guevarra, who appealed on the government’s behalf on the ICC pre-trial chamber’s resumption of its drug war probe, first raised the idea of creating an independent commission to put to rest any doubts about the country’s judicial system.
“Maybe the creation of an independent commission may actually solve that kind of concern on why only low-level officers are being investigated. What I’m saying is the ICC should at least give us that opportunity,” Guevarra told “The Chiefs” aired in Cignal TV’s One News Thursday night, March 16.
Guevarra said while he also “entertained the idea (of an independent commission), it’s a matter for higher-ups to make a decision” on it.
“The idea itself must be sold and accepted before we even think of who should comprise this independent commission. But it’s an idea worth looking into,” Guevarra said.
The Office of the Solicitor General had appealed the pretrial chamber’s order to resume the prosecutor’s drug war probe, noting that The Hague-based tribunal has no jurisdiction over the Philippines after the latter withdrew from the Rome Statute.
The solicitor general also accused the tribunal of “rushing” the Philippines into prosecuting rogue cops when the country has to give due process to all parties.
The Philippine government probe, however, is panned by critics for limiting itself to low-level police officers, while sparing those who gave the order to carry out the drug war, such as their police superiors, or even the chief drug war architect, former president Rodrigo Duterte.