PNP and NBI dig deeper into reported ‘spurious’ death certificates in drug war

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra assured on Wednesday that the Department of Justice and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) would include the alleged fake death certificates issued for victims of  the war against drugs in its ongoing review of the police’s anti-illegal drug operations where deaths occurred.

Guevarra told reporters he would direct the NBI  to verify the reported claims of forensic expert Dr. Raquel Fortun about the fake  death certificates of seven of the 46 people, who were reportedly killed during anti-illegal drug operations under “Oplan Tokhang.”

Fortun had reportedly said that the seven bodies she autopsied were reported to have died of “natural causes,” including, among others, sepsis, acute myocardial infarction (heart attack), pneumonia, hypertension and stroke.

But one who supposedly died of a heart attack had multiple gunshot wounds.

“The alleged falsification of death certificates as cover-up for the true cause of death is part of the drug war review being conducted by the DOJ, with the assistance of the NBI,” Guevarra said.

Guevarra said the NBI would be required to submit updates on its probe on the fake death certificates.

This would be “part of their periodic progress reports. We’ll give special attention to the death certificates, though,” the DOJ secretary said while noting that its review of cases of  anti-illegal drug operations where deaths occurred encountered problems such as lack of death certificates involving some victims.

“The original problem that we encountered was the absence of a copy of the death certificate in some records or files that we reviewed,” he noted.

Faked?

The Philippine National Police (PNP) said it will work with other government agencies in investigating reports indicating that death certificates issued for those who died in the campaign against illegal drugs were allegedly “spurious.”

At the same time, PNP Public Information Office chief Brig. Gen. Roderick Augustus Balba said the organization also wanted to secure copies of the reports so that they could also look into it.

“We will appreciate if these findings will be endorsed to us, so we can also probe and look into this matter,” Balba said in a news statement.

“It has been proven that the PNP is open to working in investigation as long as it goes through proper processes,” he added.

At a news briefing on Wednesday, Col. Jean Fajardo said the PNP would look into claims of falsification involving the documents as she assured that they would cooperate with any investigation.

She said the PNP would need to validate the claims and look into the cases.

Fajardo said they respect the report of Fortun, but they would also like to believe that nothing illegal was made and committed by PNP medico legal personnel who have examined the victims.

“We would like to assume that they performed their duties within the bounds of laws,” said Fajardo.

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