Palace downplays supplemental motion by human rights group

MALACAÑANG ON Monday downplayed the supplemental motion filed by human rights group Rise Up for Life and Rights before the International Criminal Court (ICC), saying the case against President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s deadly war on drugs is bound to fail.

“The Office of the President is hardly surprised upon learning that a certain Rise Up for Life and Rights submitted a supplemental communication before the International Criminal Court, which urges Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda to start the investigation into President Rodrigo Roa Duterte’s campaign against illegal drugs, notwithstanding that the case is doomed from the very start,” Presidential Spokesperson Salvador S. Panelo said in a statement.

Mr. Panelo said the group’s latest move only aimed to embarrass Mr. Duterte while he was in Russia for an official visit to promote the Philippines.

“This action is foul to say the least as this runs contrary to our standard norm and behavior to be united for our leader every time the Chief Executive is in a foreign country building up the image of the country in the international stage,” he said.

The group noted in its motion that in August 2018, when the communication to the ICC was filed, the government said a total of 4,410 person were killed during police operations as of July 2018. In November 2018, the number of killings breached 5,000.

Mr. Panelo said the figures have “no factual basis and they know that the same allegations will not hold up in court.”

According to the Philippine National Police, 6,600 persons were killed since the formal start of the anti-drug campaign in June 30, 2016. But official data from the government under the “Real Numbers PH” campaign states that 5,526 people were killed as of June 30 that year.

Rise Up also said that 74 Filipino children were among the casualties.

The Philippines withdrew from the Hague-based ICC in March 17, a year after it submitted its intention to withdraw to the United Nations secretary-general. This came following the announcement of the ICC Prosecutor in Feb. 8, 2018 that it would conduct a preliminary examination on the war on drugs. — Arjay L. Balinbin

DoJ forms panel to re-investigate 13 rogue cops

THE DEPARTMENT of Justice has formed a three-member panel of prosecutors that will re-investigate the complaint against the 13 rouge policeman allegedly involved in selling illegal drugs seized during police operations in 2013.

In a department order, Justice Secretary Menardo I. Guevarra assigned Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Alexander Suarez and Assistant State Prosecutors Josie Christina Dugay and Gino Paulo Santiago to re-investigate the dismissed complaint against the 13 cops.

“The Special Panel of Prosecutors is hereby directed to immediately conduct the necessary hearings and resolve the case within thirty (30) days from date hereof,” the order read.

Former Criminal Investigation and Detection Group chief Benjamin B. Magalong, now Baguio City mayor, told the Senate on Tuesday last week that the 13 cops from the Pampanga Provincial Police Office were involved in a police operation on Nov. 29, 2013 where they reported to have seized 38 kilograms of drugs.

However, investigation showed that they seized an estimated 200 kilograms of drugs worth P648 million and P10 million cash.

The drug trafficker also allegedly paid them P50 million to present a different Korean national in his place.

Meanwhile, Philippine National Police (PNP) Director General Oscar D. Albayalde said on Monday that he has ordered the Directorate for Investigation and Detective Management to take the lead in reviewing the administrative cases against the rogue cops.

“I have directed the Directorate for Investigation and Detective Management to take the lead in reviewing the administrative cases involving the so-called ninja cops in coordination with the PNP-Internal Affairs Service to initiate possible summary dismissal proceedings against these errant personnel,” Mr. Albayalde said in a media briefing.

He also said that the Directorate for Personnel and Records Management has been given specific instructions to account for all personnel involved to ensure their availability in the investigation proceedings.

“No stone will be left unturned and there will be no sacred cows in this investigation,” Mr. Albayalde said.

The PNP chief also reiterated that there is no evidence showing his alleged involvement in the drug recycling case. — Vann Marlo M. Villegas and Marc Wyxzel C. Dela Paz

Trillanes hearing reset

THE HEARING for the rebellion case of former Senator Antonio F. Trillanes IV has been reset by the Makati City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 150 as the prosecution has not communicated with the witness it was supposed to present.

In an order dated Oct. 7, Judge Elmo M. Alameda moved the hearing dates to Nov. 18 and Jan. 27, 2020.

Mr. Alameda also gave the prosecution 10 days to justify the presentation of its witness who was not included in the original list of witnesses.

Lawyer Reynaldo B. Robles, legal counsel of Mr. Trillanes, has also been given 10 days to comment or oppose the presentation of the witness.

Mr. Trillanes’ rebellion case was reopened after President Rodrigo R. Duterte ordered the revocation of his amnesty in 2011 for failure to comply with its requirements. — Vann Marlo M. Villegas

DoLE imposes total ban on South Sudan worker deployment

THE DEPARTMENT of Labor and Employment (DoLE) announced on Monday a total deployment ban of Overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) to South Sudan amid the ongoing violence in the country.

In a statement, DoLE said its attached agency, the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), has issued a resolution stating that it will “impose a total ban on the processing and deployment of all OFWs bound for South Sudan, until further notice.”

The South Sudan region has been declared at Crisis Alert Level 4 by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), which entails a mandatory repatriation of Filipinos there.

DoLE said armed conflict and violence remained rampant in South Sudan and has recently seen an upsurge despite the peace deal signed last year by President Salva Kiir and SPLM-IO rebel leader Riek Machar.

DoLE also said South Sudan “is non-compliant on the review of Posts Certification pursuant to Section 3 of R.A. 10022 due to the current unstable peace and order on the country. R.A. 10022 provides that DFA should issue a certification specifying the countries compliance with any of the conditions on the deployment of Filipino workers.”

Around 3,000 Filipinos work and reside in Sudan. — Gillian M. Cortez