MANILA, Philippines – The Supreme Court has rejected a petition seeking to force the Department of Justice (DOJ), the Philippine National Police and the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) to investigate over 6,000 killings of suspects in police custody that occurred during the deadly drug war ordered by former President Rodrigo Duterte.
In a nine-page decision written by Associate Justice Maria Filomena Singh, which was Duterte’s last Supreme Court nomination, the Supreme Court dismissed the petition of lawyers Anna May Baquirin, Mary Jane Real, Maria Lulu Reyes, Joan Dympha Saniel and Evalyn Ursua because they sought an improper remedy and They did not prove their claims.
In 2017, five petitioners asked the Supreme Court to issue a continuance order to compel then-PNP chief Ronald dela Rosa, CHR chairman Jose Gascon (now deceased), and former Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II to perform their duties and investigate the killings in custody in police custody of suspects arrested during Duterte’s war on drugs.
When suggestions emerged to charge Duterte at the International Criminal Court, the PNP officially admitted that more than 6,000 such incidents had occurred, but the Department of Justice was already investigating more than 50 killings in police custody. To date, only two of the 50 homicides investigated have been successfully prosecuted.
In the SC ruling, which was announced in July but not released to the media until Friday, the Supreme Court ruled that the continuation mandate order is a remedy available only in environmental cases and cannot be used in cases arising from the government’s crackdown on illegal drugs.
“No concrete evidence”
“An injunction is a remedy conferred by law where any tribunal, corporation, board, officer or person unlawfully neglects to do an act which the law expressly prescribes as a duty of office, trust or position, or unlawfully excludes any other person from the use or enjoyment of right or office to which that person is entitled,” reads Singh’s ruling.
Such an “obligation”, as explained in the decision, must require that it be exercised in accordance with the law and must be of a ministerial nature, and an order to continue the mandate can only take effect if “it is shown that there is no other simple, expeditious and appropriate remedy in ordinary legal proceedings.
However, the court found that the five petitioners had failed to show that the defendants were negligent in their duties, or that those duties were ministerial in nature, or that there was no other remedy available at common law.
“Apart from conjectures and contradictory statements, petitioners have not provided any concrete evidence that respondents [were] negligence in his duties,” the court said.
“[The petitioners’] Bare allegations cannot be believed, especially in relation to the CHR, as Gascon has submitted certified copies of the CHR’s files for each region on investigations into extrajudicial and drug-related killings, as well as a list of the training they have provided to the police and military between 2016 and 2016. 2017,” the Supreme Court said in a press release, quoting the ruling.