PHILSTAR

NINE of 10 deaths in President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s war against illegal drugs did not involve police foul play, according to the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG).

More or less 95% of the deaths were “within the bounds of the law,” Interior Undersecretary Epimaco V. Densing III told the ABS-CBN News Channel on Wednesday, citing a study on human rights violations in 2016.

He also gave Mr. Duterte, whose campaign promise in 2016 was to end the country’s drug problem in six months, a 95% score. The government managed to reduce the supply of illegal drugs in the country, he added.

“It was not perfect, but the violations are not considered massive in the human rights perspective,” Mr. Densing said.

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 Mr. Duterte’s drug war, Justice Secretary Menardo I. 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 involving the government’s anti-illegal drug operations.

The Justice department on Tuesday dropped 29 cases from its list of extralegal killings and torture cases for lack of evidence.

The cases involved witnesses that could not be found or complainants who decided not to pursue their complaints, Justice chief Menardo I. Guevarra told reporters in a Viber message.

The International Coalition for Human Rights said in March it would sanction the architects of Mr. Duterte’s war on drugs.

This was 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.

“I do hope that presumptive President Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos, Jr. would continue the war on drugs, but that ensure that all aspects of the program should uphold human rights during these operations,” Mr. Densing said. — John Victor D. Ordoñez