Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla on Sunday said the visit of forensics expert Dr. Morris Tidball-Binz to the Philippines this month will help the government with its investigation of what he described as “wrongful death tragedies” in the country.
Remulla stressed that Tidball-Binz would not come to the country as a United Nations Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial killings, but as an expert in the field of forensic pathology to help in the country’s capacity-building for its medical corps.
“We need more capable doctors in our country to assist our law enforcement agencies in their work. This is an enormous step towards that goal,” Remulla said.
He said Tidball-Binz’s accomplishments would “pave the way for forensic pathologists and enhance their practice to achieve international standard practices.”
“Dr. Tidball-Binz’s visit will help us identify the intricacies of wrongful death tragedies,” Remulla said.
Remulla met with Tidball-Binz in Geneva last November, where he attended the Universal Peer Review of the United Nations Human Rights Council.
Remulla then invited the UN Special Rapporteur and asked for his help “in assisting the law enforcement agencies in the Philippines to investigate cases of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances” in the Philippines.
“He has provided closure for families of victims of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances. We are hoping for the same when he visits the Philippines.”
Tidball-Binz is expected to arrive in the Philippines on Feb. 6 and stay here until Feb. 9.
Besides Remulla, Tidball-Binz is set to meet with Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo, Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) Director-General Moro Virgilio Lazo, Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Police General Rodolfo Azurin Jr., and National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) Director Medardo de Lemos.
In January, the International Criminal Court (ICC) said it had authorized the reopening of an inquiry into former President Rodrigo Duterte’s anti-drugs campaign.
The ICC said it was “not satisfied that the Philippines is undertaking relevant investigations that would warrant a deferral of the court’s investigations.”
But Remulla called the ICC’s actions an “unwelcome irritant,” saying he would not stand for any antics that would tend to question Philippine sovereignty.
Government records showed that at least 6,200 drug suspects were killed in police operations from June 2016 until November 2021. But several human rights groups claimed the actual death toll was around 12,000 to 30,000.
Duterte’s former aide, Senator Christopher Go, said there was no need for foreign courts to meddle in the country’s internal affairs as the country’s independent judicial system is working.
“We don’t want other countries to interfere in our judicial system. We have our own courts, we have our own judicial system,” he said.
The former spokesperson for Duterte, lawyer Harry Roque, said the former president would never submit himself to the authority of any foreign body since doing so would be an insult to the competence and impartiality of the Philippine justice system.