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Drug war review panel submits initial report to Duterte

The inter-agency panel reviewing deadly anti-drug police operations has submitted an initial report to President Rodrigo Duterte, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said Monday.

"The initial report dated 29 Dec 2020 has just been submitted to the Office of the President. Let's give him time to pore over it," Guevarra said in a message to reporters.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) leads a panel of several government agencies, including law enforcement units, in reviewing 5,655 anti-drug operations that resulted in deaths to see whether to file charges against the police officers involved.

Guevarra announced the creation of the panel last June, weeks after the UN human rights chief, Michelle Bachelet, released a report finding "near impunity" for alleged extrajudicial killings committed in the Philippines.

He had committed to presenting the panel's initial findings in November but later said their work was slowed down by restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and a series of typhoons that pummeled the country near the end of 2020.

The Commission on Human Rights, which is supposed to serve as an independent monitoring body, said on Monday that it was not involved in the review.

"This is an unfulfilled promise to Filipinos and the entire community of nations,"  said CHR Commissioner Karen Gomez-Dumpit.

Guevarra said the panel still intends to work with the CHR.

"As I said, the initial report is only a partial one," he explained.

"Our efforts have been severely hampered by current restrictions on mobility and physical access to records. Much collaborative work remains to be done," he said. — BM, GMA News