DILG investigation: No massive human rights violations in drug war

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) denied on Friday accusations of widespread human rights violations committed under the Duterte administration's war on drugs.

Interior Assistant Secretary Epimaco Densing said they evaluated 25 out of more than 1,000 police operations carried-out from July 1 to October 13 this year.

The 25 cases reviewed — 19 from Luzon, four from Visayas, and two from Mindanao — were randomly selected. DILG sent its own human rights investigators to evaluate the incidents.

Twenty-three of the 25 cases studied by the DILG showed the police correctly reported the incidents, while two cases have to be reinvestigated due to questionable police information and inconsistencies in the reports.

With the two questionable cases, the DILG is not discounting the possibility that human rights violations may have been committed.

"In any country, there will be human rights violation. As I've mentioned, there is no exception to that. What the critical thing that we have to identify, is it massive or not? Indication tells us it's not massive," Densing said.

On deaths under investigation, the DILG said majority of these deaths are not drug related. Out of the 1,831 deaths under investigation, the DILG found that only 671 were related to drugs, while 1,104 deaths have yet to be determined.

The DILG said its findings support the claims of Philippine National Police Chief Director General Ronald Dela Rosa that some personalities are taking advantage of the government's war on drugs to commit murder or homicide. He earlier said that out of the 3,000 deaths under investigation, only more than 1,000 deaths were found to be related to illegal drugs.

"Ito ay mga normal cases or murder, homicide, and may riding in tandem, paricide or whatever other crimes except drug related crimes... Merong mga personal na laban, personal na intention, agenda na nakikisakay sa ating war on drugs," Dela Rosa said on Thursday.

The DILG, however, noted the low solution rate of deaths under investigation cases may be considered as a human rights violation.

DILG: 'Extralegal killing' not 'extrajudicial killing'

The DILG will also refrain from using the term extrajudicial killings (EJK), saying that both local and international definitions of EJK is not present in the Philippines.

Densing said there is no judicial killing because there is no death penalty in the country.

He argued if there is no judicial killing, therefore, there is no extrajudicial killing.

The DILG will now start to use a more generic term "extralegal killings."

"If a policeman is trying to defend his or her life during a police operation, defends his life, and kills the other person or criminals or potential criminal, that's called legal killing. Kapag pinatay naman ng ating state agents, ang isang tao na walang kalaban-laban, yan ang tawag na diyan extralegal killing," Densing said.

[Translation: In our policemen trying to defend his or her life during a police operation, defends his life, and kills the other person or criminals or potential criminal, that's called legal killing. When they kill our state agents, a person who cannot fight back, that's what you call extralegal killing.]

The DILG plans to submit  its findings on the country's war on drugs to the United Nations.