A HUMAN rights lawyer is urging the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) to be more active against drug-related killings, especially in cases where police have alleged that the victim has put up a fight.
Jose Manuel “Chel” Diokno, the founding dean of the De La Salle University College of Law and the current chairman of the Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG), said he would talk again to CHR Chairman Jose Luis Martin “Chito” Gascon and remind him of his proposal.
“I already told him that—to have an active role in exposing the scheme of the police alleging that the drug addict or pusher had put up a fight. All they have to do is rush to the crime scene and interview the relatives if indeed the suspect had resisted arrest and drew his gun,” according to the son of iconic freedom fighter lawyer Jose “Pepe” Diokno.
“If we do these to expose these killings, then we will open the minds of the people and convince them to join us in opposing extra-judicial killings and stop this impunity,” he told The Manila Times after his 30-minute talk on Friday at a forum organized by the Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines-National Capital Region (CEAP-NCR) at the Adamson University in Ermita, Manila.
Another forum speaker, Ryan Jeremiah Quan, also a lawyer who works at CHR, said killing has become the “new normal”, especially those related to drugs, not to mention the extra-judicial killings (EJKs).
“According to the police, one third of these 8,000 killings were legitimate police operations. However, only about 400 were being investigated by CHR. Relatives of the victims are afraid to express their outrage against the police for fear that they might be next in line,” Quan said.
He blamed social media and millions of followers of President Rodrigo Duterte for spreading apathy and by making human rights an abstract notion.
Diokno also urged the new leaders of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) to be more vocal against EJKs and the “new normal” killings of suspected drug pushers/users via buy-bust operation.
The DLSU dean also called on President Duterte to fill up the vacant seats in courts. He said 20 percent of courts nationwide were still unoccupied. “Filling up these vacancies will help in hastening pending cases.”
He also urged the President to fill up the vacant courts with quality and qualified judges.
At the same time, Diokno bats for the removal of institutional stumbling blocks like prohibiting the Office of Ombudsman to investigate corruption charges against judges without the imprimatur of the Supreme Court.
“The Ombudsman is prevented from investigating corrupt judges without the consent of the high court. It is very hard to make the judge accountable. You cannot ask for the statement of liabilities and assets network (SALN) of the judge without a court order,” he said.
“Worse, he said, you cannot access the first submitted SALN of the judge,” he added.
Diokno said all these changes would help improve the human rights situation in the country.