Going after those involved in extrajudicial killings during former President Rodrigo Duterte’s drug war will be one of the priorities of the Department of Justice (DOJ).
DOJ Secretary Crispin “Boying” Remulla made the statement amid a review of the United Nations Human Rights Committee of the Philippines’ pressing issues during the 3919th meeting of the 136th Session of the international body.
“Forty-six police officers were charged in court from the 302 cases which were referred to the National Bureau of Investigation for case built up from the past drug operations; 222 police officers were found administratively liable and suspended from the service,” Remulla, in an ABS-CBN News report, said.
The official said the DOJ “strengthened witness protection program to encourage civil society organizations, witnesses and families of victims to come forward.”
He also added that another concern that the DOJ will focus on is overcrowding which continues to pose a challenge to the Bureau of Corrections.
According to Remulla, “the biggest chunk of the department’s budget is earmarked” for decongesting the cells.
He said the New Bilibid Prison “houses 17,000 maximum security prisoners in a jail built for only 5,000 people. We are now reforming the system and we have budgeted P4 billion to relocate the maximum security prison to the island Mindoro.”
Remulla meanwhile called for “real actions” to address the displacement of people due to humanitarian crises, armed conflicts, and climate change.
“The growing and continuing forced displacement of peoples from all over lead us to the conclusion that the global humanitarian agenda is, and must be, about people, their well-being, health, livelihood, and basic human dignity,” Remulla said, in his speech before the 73rd Session of the Executive Committee of the High Commissioner’s Program of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Geneva, Switzerland. Rey E. Requejo
Remulla stressed that the Philippines affirms and confirms its “continuing, strong, and active support and cooperation to ensure the success of the global humanitarian agenda.”
“Despite our being a modest country, facing serious domestic issues like the energy crises, climate change, and disaster-induced internal displacement, we stand hand in hand with the international community in pushing the boundaries of how much we can help, to go beyond our comfort zone,” he said.
He said it has been the advocacy of President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. to “rally for an international system that must work for the most vulnerable, especially the marginalized, migrants, refugees.”
Remulla said that the Philippines is “a nation of migrants, a land of people on the move, a safe haven for nine waves of refugees fleeing persecution” with a history “replete with images of our welcoming of refugees from all over the world under our longstanding open-door policy towards displaced people and other persons of concern.”
“This year, we ratified the 1961 Statelessness Convention, passed the Foundling Act, established an inter-agency body for protection services, and piloted Complimentary Pathways for Rohingyas,” he said.
“It is imperative that we must take real action and solid plans, not mere token gestures, to help ensure a better future for the displaced and the most vulnerable, including women and children, persons with disabilities, older persons, and indigenous peoples,” Remulla told members of the UNHCR.
Remulla also said there must be “a clear direction to the UNHCR on how to integrate climate change mitigation and adaptation, with defined action areas and operational guidelines, in the work of the organization.”
He said there should be sufficient support for developing countries to address climate change displacement, which is within the obligations under the Paris Agreement.