Instead of creating body to probe Ombudsman, set up independent commish on EJKs – Lagman

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Anti killings rally
Activists take part in a rally after 91 people were shot dead in just one week in August in an escalation of President Duterte's war on drugs. REUTERS FILE PHOTO

MANILA – Instead of creating a commission to investigate the Ombudsman, President Rodrigo Duterte must establish an independent commission to investigate the unabated extrajudicial killings consequent to his bloody campaign against illegal drugs, Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman asserted at the weekend.

“The constitutionally-guaranteed independence of the Office of the Ombudsman will be imperiled by any investigation, much more a partisan inquiry, exerting interference and pressure on the Ombudsman,” Lagman said in a statement.

He added the purported investigation of the Ombudsman is “perceived as vindictiveness and reprisal against the Ombudsman for authorizing an inquiry into the supposed unexplained wealth of the President and his family.”

However, Lagman said, the formation of a commission to investigate the summary killings of drug suspects is in order to secure justice for the victims of human rights violations.

He thinks the commission can follow the template of three independent fact-finding bodies – the Agrava, Feliciano and Melo Commissions – which were created by then sitting Presidents.

The independent commission envisioned by Lagman to be composed of retired justices will have the authority to:

1. Conduct an investigation on the causes, motives and rewards for the extrajudicial killings.

2. Find out the total number of victims of summary killings both by the police authorities and vigilante groups since the start of the anti-drug campaign in 2016.

3. Determine the collusion between the police authorities and vigilantes.

4. Inquire into how many of the victims belong to the poor, vulnerable and marginalized sectors.

5. Establish how many of the killings are subject to current investigations by the police authorities and other government agencies.

6. Recommend the prosecution of errant police officers and personnel and private parties.

7. Recommend viable policies and alternatives to solve the drug problem as poverty and health issues other than a mere police matter.

In the midst of accusations that he was the mastermind of Ninoy Aquino’s assassination, the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos created the Agrava Commission to investigate the assassination.

Former President Gloria Arroyo formed the Feliciano Commission to look into the grievances against her by the Oakwood mutineers. She also formed the Melo Commission to investigate the reported political killings and summary executions during her term, Lagman recalled.