By John Victor D. Ordonez, Reporter
GOVERNMENT prosecutors have dismissed for lack of witnesses six out of 52 cases against police officers accused of involvement in the previous administration’s war on drugs, the Justice department said on Wednesday.
In a live-streamed press briefing, Justice Undersecretary Jesse Hermogenes T. Andres said other factors for the dismissal were no sign of foul play and families choosing not to pursue the cases.
He added that case buildup is ongoing for seven more cases.
“We are confident with the evidence in these seven cases. It’s the certainty of punishment that deters crimes,” Mr. Andres said.
Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin C. Remulla told the same briefing that the Department of Justice (DoJ) intends to pursue the cases filed by the government and appealed to witnesses to cooperate.
“Please come forward. We will welcome these people who wish to put forward their testimonies,” he said.
Mr. Remulla said the DoJ intends to share all its information on the drug war with the Commission on Human Rights.
The Justice department had only brought five of the 52 cases involving 150 police officers to court since it started its own probe last year.
An inter-agency committee formed 15 teams last year that probed alleged extralegal killings and human rights violations involving the government’s anti-illegal drug operations.
President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. on Monday said the Philippines would not rejoin the International Criminal Court (ICC) as it may resume its probe into his predecessor’s deadly anti-illegal drug campaign.
Mr. Duterte had canceled Philippine membership in the international tribunal in 2018.
Mr. Remulla said the Philippines’ non-membership to the ICC does not deprive Filipinos of an avenue for justice as the country has a functioning justice system.
In a 53-page request to the international court’s pre-trial chamber in June, ICC Prosecutor Karim Ahmad A. Khan said the Philippines had failed to show it investigated crimes related to the campaign.
He said the chamber should issue an order on an “expedited basis.” It should “receive any further observations it considers appropriate from victims and the government of the Philippines,” he added.
The ICC, which tries people charged with crimes against humanity, genocide, war crimes and aggression, suspended its probe of Mr. Duterte’s deadly war on drugs last year upon the Philippine government’s request.
Data from the Philippine government released in June 2021 showed that at least 6,117 suspected drug dealers had been killed in police operations as of April 2021. Human rights groups estimate that as many as 30,000 suspects died.