Press Release
October 22, 2021

De Lima calls DOJ matrix on 52 cases on drug war deaths as evasive theatrics, 'too little, too late'; says time has come for Duterte to face 'truth and consequences'

Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima called the Department of Justice's (DOJ) recently-released matrix on 52 cases of drug war deaths as a desperate move to deflect public attention from the ongoing process of the International Criminal Court (ICC) involving Mr. Duterte.

De Lima, a social justice and human rights champion, said the DOJ matrix is "too little, too late" and amounts to practically nothing.

"Kung inaakala ng Malacañang na magagamit itong DOJ report para makalusot si Duterte sa kaniyang kaso sa ICC, nagkakamali sila. Lalo pa nitong ipinakita na walang ginawa ang administrasyon na ito upang pigilan ang malawakang pang-aabuso ng ating kapulisan sa ilalim ng madugong War on Drugs ni Duterte," she said in her Dispatch from Crame No. 1163.

"The DOJ report on its investigation of the 52 cases submitted by the PNP-IAS looked at the cases separately and independently of each other. A glaring pattern was that the respondents used the 'nanlaban' defense, claiming that the victims used unlawful aggression to justify the killings. Then and now, we know it's a sham narrative," she added.

It may be recalled that the ICC approved last Sept. 15 a formal probe into Duterte's signature anti-narcotics campaign, including the extra-judicial killings (EJKs) in Davao linked to the Davao Death Squad (DDS).

Out of around 7,800 people killed by the police in anti-drug operations since 2016, the DOJ's review has examined only about 400 cases, releasing a matrix on 52 of these last Oct. 20.

The matrix showed several lapses in protocols by the police, like skipping documents and tests, and, in some cases, "excessive force" by shooting a suspect 15 times.

Notably, the Philippine National Police (PNP) was only willing to share the case folders of these cases because the PNP Internal Affairs Service (PNP-IAS) had already established administrative liability in those cases.

Instead of working with the Senate to come up with a solution to the contagion of EJKs, De Lima recalled how Duterte fabricated cases against her to stop her investigation and send a warning to those who would dare to continue it.

De Lima was the very first to sound the alarm on EJKs being committed in the guise of Duterte's drug war, via her privilege speeches and Proposed Senate Resolution (PSR) No. 9, directing the Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights to investigate the rampant summary executions of suspected criminals, which she filed last July 2016. "Simula pa lamang ng aking termino ay nag-ingay na ako sa nangyayaring malawakang patayan kung saan ang mga pulis ay pinapalabas lamang na nanlaban ang mga suspek upang pangatwiranan ang lantarang pagpatay. Kung maaga pa sana ay nakinig na ang mga kinauukulan sa ating babala, ilang libong buhay sana ang nailigtas natin mula sa karahasang nangyari," she said.

She also submitted a communication to the Office of the Special Prosecutor of ICC last October 2017.

If anything, De Lima maintained that the present Administration's accountability goes beyond just culpable inaction as Duterte actively promoted and exacerbated the killings by words and by deeds.

"It's the Davao Death Squad (DDS) phenomenon all over again. He trivialized the killings, using his presidential platform to encourage more violence from the law enforcement units to ordinary citizens against whoever they want to label as drug fiends," said De Lima.

"Too little, too late... This DOJ investigation is not meant to give justice to the family of the victims of EJK. It is a mere theatrical performance to avoid criminal liability and accountability on the part of the foremost culprit, and, ultimately, to forever deny these families true justice."

"Barya-barya lang itong ginagawa ng DOJ. Neither the ICC nor the Filipino people will be fooled again. Panahon na para singilin lahat ng inutang na buhay ng 'War on Drugs' ni Duterte. The time for Duterte's delaying tactics and evasive theatrics to end has come. It is now time for truth and consequences," she added.

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