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Philippine govt admits to police drug war offenses

Justice Dept report says cops broke rules in incidents where suspects were shot dead by law enforcers

Philippine govt admits to police drug war offenses

Police investigators inspect the body of a suspected drug dealer killed by police during a drug sting operation in Manila, Philippines, on June 8, 2018. (Photo: AFP) 

Dozens of policemen have been guilty of breaking rules of engagement during arrests, tampering with evidence and falsifying reports during Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs, according to the country’s Justice Department.

In a rare admission of culpability, a department report released on Oct. 20 said there were at least 52 drug war cases resulting in the deaths of suspects where the police violated their Miranda rights.

Miranda rights are a warning customarily given by officers to suspects advising them of their right to silence, their right to refuse to answer questions or provide information to law enforcers and other officials.

Some police officers involved in these operations were suspended for 60 to 75 days, while others were dismissed, the report said.

“In at least five other cases, the suspects were shot at very close range, as shown by the presence of gunpowder residue on their chests,” the report said, suggesting the shootings were suspicious.

The report also revealed that in at least seven cases where drug suspects allegedly fired at police, evidence suggested that this was not the case.

It [the report] is just the tip of the iceberg … all eyes are on the Duterte administration now that investigations on these deadly irregularities gather pace

It also noted that a gun allegedly used by a drug suspect in one encounter appeared at several others, suggesting the “strong” possibility that it was planted on several occasions by police at shooting scenes.

Rights groups in the Philippines praised the report, saying it should be used to bring justice to thousands of victims in Duterte’s bloody drug war.

Human rights lawyer and drug war critic Neri Colmenares said the information was “damning” and showed that Duterte’s drug war was a complete sham.

“The drug war is not the success the Duterte administration paints it to be. It [the report] is just the tip of the iceberg … all eyes are on the Duterte administration now that investigations on these deadly irregularities gather pace, including by the International Criminal Court,” Colmenares said .

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On Sept. 15, the International Criminal Court opened an official investigation into crimes against humanity allegedly committed in the Philippines from 2011 to 2019 as part of Duterte’s controversial drug war.

The period also covers his term as vice mayor of Davao City in the southern Mindanao region.

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