Four cases of the 52 anti-illegal drugs police operations that resulted in deaths had been filed before the regional trial courts (RTCs), Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said Tuesday.
“Per the initial report of the NBI dated 4 January 2022, most of the 52 cases turned over by the Philippine National Police-Internal Affairs Service are still under evaluation by the regional offices of the National Bureau of Investigation or are presently subject of case build-up,” Guevarra said, in a text message to reporters.
Of the 52 cases that are suspected to be extra-judicial killings, Guevarra said only one case was filed in an RTC in the National Capital Region, while the three others were filed in RTCs located in the provinces.
“Four cases have reached the courts: the deaths of Carl Angelo Arnaiz (RTC-Navotas City); of Richard Santillan and Gessamyn Casing (RTC-Cainta); of Anwar Sawadjaan, Noel Bacalzo, and Angelo Hofer (RTC-Zamboanga del Norte); of Sharif Amatonding (RTC-San Pedro, Laguna),” he added.
Arnaiz was 19-years-old, a former student of the University of the Philippines, when he was reportedly killed by policemen on Aug. 18, 2017.
As for Santillan, an aide of former Biliran Rep. Glenn Chiong, he was reportedly killed along with female companion Casing in Cainta on Dec. 9, 2018.
Anwar Silan Sawadjaan, 19, Angelo Hofer, 20, and Noel Rey Bacalzo, 22, all residents of Ipil, Zamboanga Sibugay were allegedly killed in a shootout with policemen along a highway in Zamboanga del Norte on July 29, 2016.
Amatonding was reportedly killed on Dec. 16, 2016. His case was among those studied by the DOJ-review panel but according to the PNP-IAS the cause of his death was reportedly not drug related.
The Department of Justice started reviewing the 52 police drug war cases to determine if the 154 policemen involved in these operations could be held criminally liable.
The 154 policemen were earlier found by the PNP-IAS to have committed administrative liabilities.
Meanwhile, the Department of Justice asked for the cooperation of the Philippine National Police in the investigation and prosecution of policemen allegedly involved in killings during anti-illegal drugs operations conducted since 2016.
Guevarra said he had discussed the issue with PNP Chief Dionardo Carlos “to ensure the cooperation of the PNP regional offices, particularly on access to original case records in the possession of these offices.”
Guevarra said he had ordered the NBI to speed up its evaluation of the cases involving deaths in the government’s drug war.