SC urged to order probe of drug-related killings

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Drug-related killing
Policemen stand guard near the body of a man killed during what authorities said was a drug-related killing in Pasig City. (file photo by Erik De Castro, Reuters)

MANILA, Philippines — The Supreme Court has been asked to order the Philippine National Police, Department of Justice and Commission on Human Rights to investigate all killings associated with President Rodrigo Duterte’s war against illegal drugs.

The petitioners — Evalyn Ursua, Mary Jane Real, Maria Lulu Reyes and Joan Dymphna Saniel, all lawyers, and Anna May Baquirin — have asked for a writ of continuing mandamus because the respondents — Philippine National Police Director General Ronald dela Rosa, Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II and Commission on Human Rights chairman Jose Luis Martin “Chito” Gascon — have so far failed to perform their constitutional duty to prevent violations of the right to life and to investigate and prosecute such violations.

“Respondents should be directed, through a writ of continuing mandamus, to perform their duties under the law, to take adequate appropriate measures, and to report to the Honorable Court on the actions and measures taken,” the petition said.

“Public interest would be served by compelling prompt, thorough, impartial, independent, and transparent official inquiry into the trail of deaths, reportedly related to the government’s anti-illegal drug operations. Respondents must be called upon to perform their duties of conducting investigations and prosecuting the perpetrators of killings, if warranted,” it added.

By granting the writ of continuing mandamus, the high court would “ensure that respondents perform their ministerial duties” under the 1987 Constitution and international treaties on human rights that the Philippines has ratified.

Estimates place the total of deaths in the war on drugs at more than 13,000 and counting since Duterte assumed office last year.