The Department of Justice’s inter-agency committee on extrajudicial killings (EJKs) will evaluate 1,500 cases filed against alleged terrorist groups by the Armed Forces of the Philippines to determine which of them should be investigated immediately.
The AFP-endorsed cases involved alleged violations of the International Humanitarian Law (IHL), which is also referred to as “the law of armed conflict and regulates the conduct of war.”
The inter-agency panel had earlier said that cases involved “attacks on civilian properties, willful killing of civilians/non-combatants, children involved in armed conflict, and use of anti-personnel mines.”
No additional details were given by the committee. It said the cases occurred between 2010 and 2020.
Justice Undersecretary Adrian Ferdinand S. Sugay said the 1,500 cases were tackled during a meeting held last Dec. 15 by the AO 35 Inter-Agency Committee on Extra-Legal Killings, Enforced Disappearances, Torture and Other Grave Violations of the Right to Life, Liberty and Security of Persons.
Sugay stressed that these cases will be subjected to “further study and future discussion.”
Meanwhile, the inter-agency committee on extrajudicial killings assured on Monday that there is non-stop investigation into the deaths arising from the joint police-military operations in Southern Tagalog provinces last March 7.
Sugay made the assurance after his meeting with Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra and members of the committee, known as the AO 35 Inter-Agency Committee on Extra-Legal Killings, Enforced Disappearances, Torture and Other Grave Violations of the Right to Life, Liberty and Security of Persons.
Sugay said the meeting focused on updates on “investigations into the Calabarzon incidents” and “general task force administrative issues.”
According to him, the committee will be issuing further updates as soon as the other reports come in.
Last March 7, the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) conducted raids to ferret out persons suspected as members of communist terrorist groups in the provinces of Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon.
The operations resulted in the deaths of nine activists. Guevarra
directed the AO 35 committee to investigate the incident, now known as
One case has resulted in the filing of a murder complaint against 17 policemen before the Office of the City Prosecutor (OCP) in Dasmarinas City, Cavite, concerning the death of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan-Cavite (BAYAN Cavite) secretary general Emmanuel Asuncion.
Reports stated that Asuncion was killed during a raid at the office of the Workers’ Assistance Center (WAC) in Dasmarinas City.
Guevarra had earlier said that the committee will not investigate the deaths of cousins Puroy and Randy dela Cruz, both of whom were indigenous people’s rights advocates and also killed last March 7.
“The deaths of Puroy dela Cruz and Randy dela Cruz were not included in the probe as no cause-oriented connection was established,” Guevarra stressed.