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Initial report on drug war review may be ready by end November —DOJ chief

The Department of Justice (DOJ), which leads a review of deadly police anti-drug operations, may be able to come up with "at least an initial or partial report" of its findings by the end of the month, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said Thursday.

The COVID-19 pandemic has hampered the inter-agency panel's efforts, affecting their mobility in examining case files in different law enforcement field stations, Guevarra said.

"As I see it, though, there may not be a need to look at each and every case, if a pattern is clearly visible upon examination of sufficient random samplings," he said in a message to reporters.

Last June, Guevarra told the United Nations Human Rights Council of the panel, which he said was conducting a "judicious review" of 5,655 police operations that resulted in deaths to see whether to file charges against the officers involved.

The DOJ chief said the panel also intends to engage victims' families by providing them with legal options and assisting in the prosecution of erring law enforcement agents.

The Presidential Communications Operations Office, the Department of the Interior and Local Government, the Department of Foreign Affairs, the Presidential Human Rights Committee Secretariat, the Presidential Management Staff, the Dangerous Drugs Board, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, the Philippine National Police, and the National Bureau of Investigation are part of the panel.

The Commission on Human Rights serves as an independent monitoring body.

Guevarra had said the panel will report its work by the end of November. 

Critics of the Duterte administration's drug war said the creation of the review panel was a form of damage control and a way to avoid an international investigation into the Philippines' human rights situation.

The UN human rights chief, Michelle Bachelet, earlier this year released a report finding "near impunity" for alleged extrajudicial killings committed in the Philippines.—LDF, GMA News