The Department of Justice on Monday said that if persons or officials other than policemen are involved in the 52 illegal drugs operations that resulted in the death of suspects, they too will be made criminally accountable for the alleged extrajudicial killings.
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra stressed the probe to be conducted by the National Bureau of Investigation will focus on those who were actually involved in the ground operations and were identified as such by the Philippine National Police-Internal Affairs Service.
“If in the course of the investigation, it would appear that other persons were likewise involved in any capacity whatsoever, so be it. All persons against whom competent evidence will show a degree of culpability shall be made to account,” Guevarra said in a text message to reporters.
When asked up to what level in the government should accountability be imposed, Guevarra replied: “To whatever the evidence will lead.”
On Sunday, Guevarra said criminal charges, not only administrative offenses, may be filed against 154 policemen involved in the initial 52 cases of deaths arising from illegal drugs operations, whose records had been reviewed by the DOJ.
According to him, the DOJ has informed the PNP that “these cases will be endorsed to the NBI for case build-up and filing of criminal complaints if warranted by the evidence.”
The DOJ will meet with the NBI today to discuss the case build-up.
Guevarra earlier said the DOJ met with the PNP last Friday and discussed the reports on the findings of the Justice panel that reviewed the records on 52 cases involving deaths in police operations.
The DOJ chief stressed their move to refer the results of the review to the NBI was also discussed during the meeting, which was held in line with President Rodrigo Duterte’s instruction to the PNP and the DOJ in his message to the United Nations General Assembly.
The records of the 52 cases involving deaths were submitted to the DOJ for review by the PNP-IAS last June. The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency also submitted over 100 records of similar cases.
The PNP-IAS has investigated around 6,000 anti-illegal drugs operations that resulted in deaths.
Guevarra also said the DOJ will closely monitor about 100 cases, which are pending preliminary investigation or trial before the courts, against law enforcers for alleged violations of the law in connection with illegal drugs operations.
“We’ll leave it to the PNP and the PDEA to review and improve their operational procedures. The DOJ will be ready to provide assistance, if needed,” Guevarra vowed.