MANILA, Philippines — The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) said it would investigate another claim of drug suspects being killed despite surrendering, including allegations that Laguna police officers gunned down a minor after fighting back.
According to lawyer and spokesperson Jacqueline de Guia, CHR is deeply concerned with the death of a minor whom police claimed to have fought back, especially as assertions that the victim was shot while in handcuffs.
“[CHR] is deeply concerned with the news on another death of a minor—this time involving a 16-year old boy who allegedly fought back (nanlaban) when police officers were serving a warrant for a drug charge in Biñan, Laguna,” De Guia said in a statement on Friday.
“We shall be conducting our own independent probe on this incident to pursue the truth behind the incident and, more importantly, in pursuit of justice should it be proven that a human rights violation was perpetrated by the police,” she added.
CHR cited police reports on the anti-drug operation in Biñan, Laguna, where victims Johndy Maglinte, 16 years old, and his companion Antonio Dalit were said to have exchanged fire with authorities.
However, onlookers supposedly said that Maglinte was only killed as he witnessed police officers shooting Dalit.
“Based on the Philippine National Police (PNP) official report in Calabarzon, victims Johndy Maglinte, 16, and his companion Antonio Dalit exchanged shots with the Laguna police when they were serving a warrant [on] Dalit, which lead to their death,” De Guia said.
“In contrast […] (relatives) recounted in several media interviews how Dalit was killed first and, since Johndy witnessed the alleged killing, the police reportedly shot him too—handcuffed and facing down into the mud,” she added.
The drug war of President Rodrigo Duterte has been much scrutinized due to widespread allegations of abuse by police officers, as well as cases of supposed extrajudicial killings (EJKs).
The issue of EJKs has been a major rallying point for complainants who filed cases against Duterte before the International Criminal Court (ICC) for allegedly committing crimes against humanity.
Just recently, former ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda who handled the preliminaries of the case requested judicial authority to start a full-blown investigation of the allegations against Duterte and the overall human rights situation in the Philippines.
As of now, there is only one EJK case in the drug war implementation where police officers were convicted of murder — that of Kian delos Santos, a minor whom a Caloocan court said was summarily executed despite surrendering to police officers and even if he was not the original target of the operation.
READ: ICC prosecutor asks for judicial authority to probe case filed vs Duterte
READ: 3 policemen guilty of killing Kian delos Santos — court
CHR hopes that the government speeds up its investigations on alleged EJK cases to ensure that the administration takes the issue of human rights seriously.
“We hope that commitments to uphold human rights translate to delivering justice to the aggrieved and improvements on government programs and policies, including reviewing the conduct of State agents in implementing them,” De Guia said.
“Our government has the primary obligation to respect, protect, and fulfill the rights of all. It is [in] the best interest of the government as well to demonstrate that lapses are firmly and urgently addressed and that reforms are also underway to allay concerns of the international community on the effectiveness of our domestic justice and accountability mechanisms,” she added.
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