Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla on Tuesday disclosed that the Department of Justice (DOJ) is organizing a group of 35 medical doctors to undergo training on forensic pathology under the tutelage of forensic expert Dr. Morris Tidball-Binz, also the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Killings.
Dr. Tidball-Binz, who arrived in Manila last February 6, will be in the country until Feb. 8.
He was invited by Remulla, not as the UN Special Rapporteur, but as a forensic expert.
The Justice chief said earlier that Tidball-Binz visit would help the Philippine government rectify what he described as “wrongful death tragedies” in the country.
According to Remulla, Tidball-Binz will return to the Philippines in May or August this year to help in the capacity building program for Filipino forensic pathologists.
“We’re looking forward when he comes back. We would have already prepared a class for 35 medical doctors,” he said.
Aside from the medical doctors, Remulla said government prosecutors would also be asked to join the training program under Dr. Tidball-Binz.
“The capacity building is not only for forensic pathology, but also (for those) with investigative work,” he explained.
The training will be funded by the UN Joint Program with the Philippines.
“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.”
“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.”
Besides Remulla, Tidball-Binz was scheduled to meet with Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo, Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) director-general Moro Virgilio Lazo, Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Police Gen. 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.