MANILA, Philippines — It took more than five years for authorities to start building criminal complaints to be filed against police officers who killed suspects in “war on drugs” operations, information released by the Department of Justice showed.
The DOJ on Wednesday made public a 21-paged matrix on its review of case records where the PNP IAS found liability on police officers involved in the operations. The information only included docket number, name of killed suspect, date and place of incidents, IAS findings and DOJ panel observations.
The DOJ has so far gained access to 52 cases from the IAS, although one did not involve a drug operation and another had no fatality in it.
In the 50 case records from the PNP’s Internal Affairs Service on “drug war” operations resulted in deaths, 12 were from incidents that happened in 2016. At least three of the case incidents had more than one suspects.
According to the DOJ data, IAS recommendations on the police officers involve from the operation range from reprimand, suspension with varying periods, demotion and dismissal from service.
Majority of the deaths occurred during buy-bust operations. Killings were also recorded in implementation of search warrant or arrest warrant. Some victims were shot at checkpoints.
The justice department is conducting a review of 5,655 drug operations that resulted in deaths — although rights groups have put the number of victims in the bloody “war on drugs” at more than triple of this number.
Case records of these operations have already been forwarded to the National Bureau of Investigation for case build-up.
On July 29, 2016, three people were killed after police officers flagged a vehicle at a checkpoint in Liloy, Zamboanga del Sur.
Based on DOJ observation, the cops claimed that when they approached the vehicle, one suspect was holding a gun that prompted the police officers to fire a single shot. The two other occupants in the vehicle were also killed.
Two of the suspects had four gunshot wounds, while the third person was shot twice. “Per medico legal report, the victims appeared to have been shot at close range,” the DOJ said.
The unidentified number of cops involved in this operation were meted with dismissal from service.
Asked why the data release withheld names and the number of police officers involved in the operations, Justice Undersecretary Adrian Sugay replied: “Due process considerations.”
“And these cases have already been referred to the NBI,” Sugay also said.
Another case that occurred on July 20, 2016 involved police officers who arrested a suspect for operating a motorcycle without license plate in an anti-illegal drug checkpoint. But the suspect allegedly attempted to grab the firearm while they were on their way to the police station.
This prompted them to “neutralize” the suspect, resulting in his death.
“There is no autopsy or death certificate on record,” the DOJ said.
Copy of the DOJ matrix: