THE JUSTICE department is investigating allegations that police falsified the death certificates of suspected pushers to cover up the fact that they were killed in drug raids. 

“The alleged falsification of death certificates as a cover-up for the true cause of death is part of the drug war review being conducted by the Department of Justice (DoJ), with the assistance of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI),” Justice Secretary Menardo I. Guevarra told reporters in a Viber message on Wednesday. 

Forensic expert Raquel B. del Rosario-Fortun, who has been examining the exhumed remains of drug war victims since July, has said some death certificates showed victims dying of natural causes even if they had gunshot wounds consistent with homicide. 

Of 46 cases she examined, one death certificate was missing and several others were incomplete, she told a news briefing on Tuesday. She added that at least 32 bodies had gunshot wounds as the cause of death. 

“The original problem that we encountered was the absence of a copy of the death certificate in some records or files that we reviewed,” Mr. Guevarra said. “The certificates may have been issued all right, but some of them were not found in the police files.” 

Government prosecutors have filed charges in court against law enforcers in four cases and plan to probe 250 more of what could have been wrongful deaths in President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s war on drugs, Mr. Guevarra told the United Nations Human Rights Council in February. 

An inter-agency committee formed 15 teams last year that probed extralegal killings and human rights violations during these operations. 

Last month, the International Coalition for Human Rights, a global human rights watchdog, said it would sanction the “architects” of Mr. Duterte’s war on drugs. 

The measure by the group is a follow-up on a report conducted last year by Investigate PH, an independent human rights group that alleged patterns of systemic human rights violations including crimes against humanity by the government. 

Filipino lawyers have been calling on the International Criminal Court (ICC) to resume its probe of the government’s anti-illegal drug campaign, saying the Justice department was only looking into 52 deaths out of the tens of thousands killed. — John Victor D. Ordoñez