BY: Aaron Recuenco
The Philippine National Police (PNP) has found a new unlikely ally in its campaign against illegal drugs – the Commission on Human Rights.
But the smooth cooperation between the PNP and the CHR, which started with a meeting between their respective top officials led by Director General Ronald dela Rosa and CHR chairman Chito Gascon on Tuesday, may hit a snag over a request on case folders of all the illegal drugs-related death.
“Chairman Gascon himself said that they are not against war on drugs, they are just against the possible human rights violations that are being committed as a result of the drugs war,” said Dela Rosa.
Gascon, in a press briefing on Tuesday, said that they support the PNP in its effort to eliminate the illegal drugs problems in the country. He added that the meeting would be a good start for a positive cooperation between the two agencies.
The two agencies have been at odds for several months, triggered by social media attacks on the CHR which is openly calling out the PNP on questionable deaths of drugs personalities in the drugs war.
Some pronouncements of top PNP and other government officials have also fueled the rift, with some of them questioning why the CHR is silent on crimes committed by those hooked on drugs.
The CHR then came out with an all-out information drive to explain the role of the CHR and the PNP – that crimes committed by civilians are responsibility of the PNP and other law enforcement agencies while the role of the CHR is to protect the civilians from the abuses committed by the government, particularly the armed agents of the State such as the police and the military.
Gascon said they have presented mechanisms in order to insulate the PNP from allegations of human rights violations in its anti-drugs war.
“He really wants to end the problem on illegal drugs. We will join forces,” said Dela Rosa, basing his statement on a one-hour meeting with Gascon on Tuesday.
But the good cooperation of the PNP and CHR is now on the hands of the President.
This as the CHR requested for all the case folders of all those slain in police-initiated drugs operations and those killed by suspected vigilante groups.
Gascon said they want to check if abuses were committed in those deaths such as what happened to 17-year old Kian Lloyd delos Santos who was allegedly executed by policemen but was made to appear that his death was a result of a legitimate police operation.
Gascon suspects that there are cases similar to that of Kian on the more than 3,500 deaths during police operations.
He said they will only know about it if they would be given access to case folders.
“This is one things that I want to clear with the president, that is, if we can open the case folders to them,” said Dela Rosa.
Duterte earlier declared that all requests and invitation for investigation would have to be cleared first by him, especially those relating to illegal drugs.
“He is our Commander-In-Chief, we really have to seek permission from him,” said Dela Rosa.