Rights body has probed less than 20% of extrajudicial killings, says chairman

By on August 25, 2016

Commission on Human Rights. (Facebook photo)
Commission on Human Rights. (Facebook photo)

MANILA—The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) Special Task Force has looked into less than 20 percent of more than a thousand cases on extrajudicial killings, its chairperson Jose Luis Martin Gascon said Wednesday.

The rights body has not experienced having cases of this magnitude since the CHR was established in 1987, Gascon said during a budget briefing at the House of Representatives.

He cited Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Dir. Gen. Ronald dela Rosa’s report that 1,160 deaths recorded in the past 55 days are “under investigation”, while more than 700 persons have been killed in legitimate police operations.

”We are not able to respond to every single case at this point,” Gascon said.

The CHR task force is reviewing or investigating a total of 103 cases of extrajudicial killings linked to the government’s war on narcotics.

Gascon also urged the PNP’s Internal Affairs to investigate “every incident of death resulting from ostensibly legal police operations”.

”These should all be treated as crime. Therefore, the full force of the law should be directed at investigating these cases and ultimately uncovering the perpetrators and bringing them to justice,” he said.

The CHR chairman raised the possibility of the International Criminal Court exercising its jurisdiction over the rampant extrajudicial killings if such scenario still persists.

He admitted that the CHR’s response and resolution methods are not at an “optimal” status, but he welcomed the proposed budget for 2017 of PHP496 million, which would be primarily used to augment personnel services to respond to mounting challenges faced by the commission.

Interventions include increasing the number of special investigators per region, as well as creating a digitized docket system where all of the investigators can input cases.