JUSTICE Secretary Menardo Guevarra on Wednesday said he would heed President Duterte’s directive during his speech before the United States General Assembly (UNGA) for the justice department to dig deeper into drug-related cases where deaths occurred and bring to justice those who are accountable.
Guevarra noted that the President’s speech before the UN showed his commitment to prosecute police officers who resorted to extrajudicial killings and other irregularities in the implementation of his drug war campaign.
Duterte told the UNGA that he has instructed the Department of Justice and the Philippine National Police (PNP) to review the conduct of the government’s campaign against illegal drugs and to make accountable those who acted beyond what the law requires.
Guevarra said despite the limited time, the President was able to inform the UN that there has been no let-up in the quest to review drug war cases of the PNP that resulted in deaths.
“PRRD [President Duterte] just had a few minutes to speak. So every sentence counted. His instruction to the DOJ and the PNP to review the conduct of the campaign against illegal drugs, together with the succeeding statement that those found to have acted beyond bounds during operations shall be made accountable before our laws, is a clear directive to pursue with greater vigor the ongoing review of drug death cases and to commence legal actions if found warranted,” the justice chief said.
In light of this, Guevarra said he is scheduled to meet with the leadership of the PNP early next week to discuss the findings of the DOJ review panel on the 52 drug war cases that resulted in death to determine if there was criminal liability on the part of the enforcers.
“We will sit down with the PNP Chief [Gen. Guillermo Eleazar] in the next few days to discuss our report as well as the President’s directive given at the UN General Assembly,” Guevarra said.
“Based on what he said, the President wants the DOJ to take further action, in collaboration with the PNP,” he added.
When asked what “further action” meant, Guevarra said it could mean “[to] determine criminal liability.”
The justice chief, however, assured to make public the results of the DOJ panel’s review of the drug cases but would have to discuss the report with the PNP first. “We’ll inform all of you. We just want to do things the proper way,” he said.
Last week, the DOJ submitted the panel’s findings and recommendation to President Duterte but the latter has yet to comment on it.