Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo on Sunday urged the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) to file cases against police officers believed to have used “excess, unreasonable force” in the conduct of anti-illegal drug operations instead of just resorting to propaganda to destroy the image of the Duterte administration.
In his online commentary show “Counterpoint”, Panelo reminded the CHR of its mandate to file cases against persons perceived to have violated the law.
Panelo said CHR should stop issuing press releases and statements and must pursue its findings.
“Maghain na kayo ng demanda para maparusahan natin. Ang problema kasi ang ginagamit niyo, parang ang lumalabas nagpo-propaganda. (File cases so we can punish them. The problem is you’re just using propaganda),” he said.
“Hindi naman pupuwedeng sa pamamagitan ng mga press release, press statement sasabihin niyo na ganito ang inyong findings. If those are your findings, then sue para itong mga nag-abuso sa inyong pananaw mabigyan na natin ng paglilitis (You can’t just issue press statements about your findings. If those are your findings, then sue so that these abusers can stand trial),” he added.
Panelo also emphasized the importance of presenting enough evidence to ensure that cases filed will not be dismissed.
“Ang pamahalaan hindi po natin masisisi kung hindi natutugis ang mga involved sapagkat ‘pag haghain kayo ng demanda, kailangan meron kayong ebidensya. ‘Pag walang ebidensya, madi-dismiss yung kaso (You cannot blame the government if some cases cannot be pursued because when you file a case, there needs to be evidence. If there’s no evidence, cases will be dismissed),” he said.
He shrugged off CHR’s initial findings, showing that police officers had “intent to kill” in how the victims died, saying there were circumstances involved.
The CHR report said there was “an intent to kill” since most victims were shot in the abdomen, torso, and the head.
“Puwede naman habang nagbabaliran, sila’y tumakas at sa pagtakas nila tinamaan na ng mga bala (It might have been that while there was a shooting, the person tried to escape that’s why he was shot that way),” he said.
President Rodrigo Duterte himself said that he would not tolerate abuses by law enforcement authorities, according to Panelo.
“Sabi nga ni Presidente (The President said), those who abuse their authority in relation to this war on drugs will have hell to pay. O ibig sabihin, may go signal si Presidente na hindi siya papayag na yung mga umaabuso ay papabayaan lang natin (That means the President gave the go signal that he will not allow anyone who abuses authority to go unpunished),” he said.
On Thursday, Malacañang urged the CHR to gather evidence for all victims and submit them before the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).
“Ang kinakailangan po gawin ng CHR, sang-ayon na rin sa kanilang mandato, ay kumalap ng ebidensya kada biktima ng sa tingin nila na illegal use of force sa panig ng mga state agents at i-assemble ‘yan at ibigay sa ating piskalya or sa ating NBI para sila po ay makapag-file ng kaso. Kung hindi po gagawin ito ng CHR wala pong mangyayari kung dakdak lang sila ng dakdak (What the CHR needs to do, in accordance with their mandate, is to gather evidence for all victims of alleged illegal use of force and assemble them for presentation before the fiscal or the NBI so that cases can be filed. If the CHR won’t do this, nothing will happen, if they just keep talking),” he said.
Panelo said the CHR can also stand as complainant to get the cases moving.
“Walang hadlang para maging complainant ang CHR para lang po ma-trigger at magsimula ang criminal justice system (Nothing is stopping the CHR from standing as the complainant to trigger and start the criminal justice system),” he added.
The CHR earlier investigated nearly 3,300 killings in Metro Manila, Central and Southern Luzon during police operations and alleged vigilante killings between May 2016 and March 2021.
Of the total, 1,912 people were killed in police operations while 1,382 others died at the hands of unidentified assailants, the report said.
CHR Commissioner Gwendolyn Pimentel Gana said their reports showed “several circumstances and evidence that showed possible abuse of strength and intent to kill” since the nature of the wounds did not indicate that the police did not just try to stop the victim from fighting back.
“There was an intent to kill in the way the wounds were inflicted and the location of the wounds. There was a use of excess force, unreasonable [violence],” she said, quoting the report.
Source: Philippines News Agency