Philippine police chief on ICC’s drug war deaths probe: We’re not hiding anything

Last week, the ICC said it would resume the full-blown probe into the numerous deaths in Duterte’s bloody drug war and the Davao death squad killings.

Beatrice Pinlac

Beatrice Pinlac

Philippine Daily Inquirer


PNP chief Gen. Rodolfo Azurin Jr. (INQUIRER file photo)

January 31, 2023

MANILA — The Philippine National Police (PNP) on Monday maintained that it is not concealing anything as it called on the International Criminal Court (ICC) to respect the country’s sovereignty and recognize that its judicial system can investigate the drug war killings during the previous administration.

PNP chief Gen. Rodolfo Azurin Jr. assured the public on Monday that they are “fully cooperating” with the Department of Justice (DOJ) in reviewing the cases of its personnel found liable for procedural lapses in anti-illegal drugs operations.

“We are not hiding anything,” Azurin stressed in a news briefing. “What we are asking is for ICC to also give due respect to the judicial processes that we have in our country because we are a sovereign country. We have our own judicial proceedings.”

Azurin then urged the ICC to instead submit evidence should they find any. He, however, reiterated that the country’s judicial bodies “will do the process.”

“It’s a matter of reaching out — who are these people complaining to the ICC, so they can engage us. And we promise, the PNP will help to make sure that they will be served justice, if that’s what they’re asking for,” he said in a mix of English and Filipino.

Azurin further said: “The PNP is committed to upholding the rule of law in all our actions, and we call on ICC and all international bodies to respect the jurisdiction and sovereignty of our country to address these cases under Philippine laws.”

52, so far, facing raps
During the time of former PNP chief Guillermo Eleazar, some 300 cases against police personnel who allegedly committed procedural lapses in anti-illegal drug operations were submitted to the DOJ, according to Azurin.

Formal cases were lodged against 52 PNP personnel.

“That’s why we don’t see any reason why the ICC would come in to investigate, because there are continuous investigations being done by the police in tandem with the Department of Justice (DOJ),” the top cop said.

Azurin noted that no additional cases have so far been forwarded since he assumed the helm of the PNP, but he assured the public that they are frequently looking into the drug war-related cases involving police personnel.

Last week, the ICC said it would resume the full-blown probe into the numerous deaths in Duterte’s bloody drug war and the Davao death squad killings.

DOJ Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla, however, called this move an insult to the government’s justice system which, he argued, is already conducting its own investigations on the matter.

Several lawmakers and human rights groups welcomed the ICC call as they urged President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to cooperate with the probe and prove that the Philippines, under his administration, is an ally of human rights.

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